Brandon Shillingford, Contributing Writer
As a huge fan of both “Split” and “Unbreakable” — the first two films in M. Night Shyamalan’s recent trilogy — the thought of those two films tied together was exciting.
And while it may have seemed like a smart decision to tie the two films together, they are tonally and stylistically different. “Glass” fails as a finale to what could’ve been one of the greatest trilogies of all time.
When Shyamalan unveiled “Split,” a particular twist at the end of the movie tied the film to his masterful sophomore effort, “Unbreakable.” In the following months, hype surrounding the series reached a fever pitch until an inevitable third film, “Glass” was announced.
“Split” operates as a taut and suspenseful thrill ride, while “Unbreakable” dissects the superhero genre as a low-burning morality study about a man struggling with grief. Shyamalan tries his hardest to build a bridge between the two tones, but his attempt falls flat.
Once “Glass” moves past its superior first act, the latter two lose any momentum built by the film’s first 30 minutes. It lacks the energy of “Split” and the mystery of “Unbreakable.” The film overstays its welcome in a prolonged — albeit effective — finale, with a “twist” the film really does not earn.
Beloved characters from both films return, played by Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson and Anya Taylor-Joy. And while the latter two give memorable performances in limited screen time, Willis resigns himself to what he’s done for the last decade — sleepwalking through the entire movie.
“Glass” isn’t without positives, though; creative production design and some interesting set pieces inject some much-needed energy into the film. But this movie belongs to McAvoy, who I wholeheartedly believe was robbed of an Oscar nomination in 2018 for his dynamic performance as Kevin Wendell Crumb in “Split.”
McAvoy shines as his 24 completely distinctive characters, giving one of the best performances of the 21st century. With a slight twitch in his face, he changes characters in the blink of an eye. Within the span of 10 seconds, he can be funny then terrifying, charming then repulsive. The man is one of the industry’s best actors and it would be a shame to see his great work go unnoticed again.
It’s hard not to appreciate the sheer ambition of “Glass,” and I really hope the negative response this film gets doesn’t dissuade Shyamalan from taking more risks. We need more filmmakers willing to take the big swings, even if it means missing a few times.
With that being said, Shyamalan fought an uphill battle all along. Was there ever any way to please fans of “Unbreakable” and “Split” all while creating a satisfying conclusion to both? Ultimately, “Glass” isn’t up to par and serves as a disappointing conclusion to a trilogy with loads of unfulfilled potential.