A review of Glass by Ahmed Zayani
Is there a harder prospect for a director than creating a compelling and satisfying third entry into a much-beloved trilogy? As we’ve seen many times in the past, trilogies tend to come with a captivating start, an awe-inspiring follow-up, yet when it comes to the conclusion, things sadly unravel at the seam. Whether it’s not having a clear set plan from the get-go or buckling under the pressure of fan and critical expectations it seems that more often than not the closing entry just simply does not hold up and is often regarded as the weakest of the bunch. Of course, there are a few exceptions to the rule wherein the third entry not only lived up to prior expectations but managed to come out as the best of the bunch. They may not be that common and are far in between but when they come around they manage to set the world on fire.
Directed by M. Night Shyamalan, Glass is the third and supposedly final entry in the Eastrail 177 trilogy. The film follows the super-powered David Dunn (played by Bruce Willis) and the many personalities occupying the body of Kevin Wendell Crumb (played by James McAvoy) who are incarcerated into a mental health institution after a public confrontation gone array. Along with the maligned Elijah Price (played by Samuel L. Jackson) they begin to question their superhuman abilities once put under the microscope by Dr Ellie Staple (played by Sarah Paulson).
I am one of the rare few who never gave up on M. Night Shyamalan. With the exception of After Earth, I found his films to be quite enjoyable and unfairly taken to task by critics and audiences alike. I was quite pleased by the positive response that The Visit got and was ecstatic to see Split connecting with so many people. So it came as a surprise to me when Glass was panned right out of the gate. Could it be that all the goodwill that M. Night had built with his latest two films were for nought? Having seen Glass twice thus far, I can only conclude that those criticizing the film have either not seen the previous two entries or were taken aback by the bold approach to the narrative. Let’s get one thing straight; if you have not seen both Unbreakable & Glass or you find yourself unable to enjoy slow burn character-based features then don’t watch Glass. This is a film that not only asks for your patience and asks of you to keep an open mind but to also have prior knowledge of events that occurred earlier in the trilogy. However, if you are that person then you will be rewarded with one of the best trilogy closers in recent history.
Simply put, Glass is a fantastic film that is every bit as good as the prior two entries in the franchise or any other production on Shyamalan's filmography. The film’s narrative is audacious in its aspirations and was able to circumvent expectations with its presentation, a thing which irked some viewers yet I found myself riveted with each frame. The film also supported a terrific cast of characters; both Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson are back in the roles they were made famous for nineteen years ago and they haven’t lost their edge. Both Anya Taylor-Joy and Spencer Treat Clark did well with their supporting roles and Sarah Paulson was oddly effective as the hapless psychiatrist trying to get to the incarcerated trio.
This was, however, James McAvoy’s show through and through. Somehow, McAvoy managed to top his performance in Split by not only introducing us to more characters that encompass The Horde but also by further fleshing out those that we’ve come to know and in a weird way, care about. This is an absolute master class in acting with McAvoy seamlessly transitioning from one character that occupies an extreme end of the spectrum to another polar opposite as it if was second nature. This is not only the best performance of the year but arguably of the decade and it would be nothing short of s travesty if James’ name gets once again left off the ballots come Oscar day.
One thing that I would’ve wished for with Glass was longer run time. This might seem silly considering the two hours run time but I think the film would’ve benefited from an additional twenty minutes added to the run time to flesh out some relationships as well as to further highlight the mental impact that Dr Staple has on the starring trio. I also would’ve loved for them to have included more of the awesome Unbreakable score which was utilized brilliantly at the end of Split but was sorely missing here. That said, Glass is still a brilliant film that can sit comfortably amongst the best of M. Night Shyamalan.
This is an absolute must watch in the theatres (after watching the prior two entries of course) and I myself look forward to my third screening of it quite soon. Don’t let the critics cloud your judgment, give this film a chance and make up your own mind about it.
For more cinematic intel follow Ahmed on @theahmedzayani
The Five: Favorite trilogy closers
The Dark Knight Rises
Back to the Future part 3
The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly
Toy Story 3
Day of the Dead