Right off the bat, I want to just divulge that I think Unbreakable is M. Night Shyamalan’s best film, an underrated masterpiece if there ever was one. I do hold The Sixth Sense in high regard as a close second. I did think that Split was very good, only being several awkward scenes and some editing away from being a masterpiece itself. And I think Signs and The Village are very good too, we get to both half-hazard endings. And I think The Last Airbender, The Visit, The Happening, Lady In The Water, and After Earth are all great big piles of shit. I didn’t see GLASS until Sunday morning, so color me a bit shocked when it was released to bad reviews (even though it was a January film, yet again Split was released in January). A lot of folks were saying that instead of continuing to build upon the comeback he had with Split, he instead combined what he did best, with the worst of most of his career. After finally seeing it for myself, I’m going to keep my real feelings for the film in check, and say that I disagree with what the masses are saying. I actually kind of liked it.
Does the movie have its problems? Absolutely. It is definitely the weakest in the Eastrail 177 Trilogy and it does stumble a bit, especially the editing and style choice of the ending, but the whole thing never topples over like I was expecting it to. For those of you not in the know. Glass continues/concludes the story of Bruce Willis’ character David Dunn and Samuel L. Jackson’s character Mr. Glass from Unbreakable along with James McAvoy’s multiple personality character Kevin from Split. I’m not really spoiling anything by saying the story concludes because Shyamalan has said that this is it, his original vision of a trilogy is finished and there is no going back in numerous interviews. And I thought it was actually a pretty good grounded into reality imaginative ending. A lot of people didn’t like certain character reveals, fates, twists, what have you, but I see very much into what kind of story Shyamalan was trying to tell and I thought that most of his choices felt real and bold.
In my opinion, the problem with the ending of the story, ideas, etc. wasn’t so much in the writing, but in the execution of the shots, pacing, editing, all the technical aspects. I for one was not like a lot of these critics and expecting a grand spectacle of epic proportions where Dunn and The Horde were going to ram each other into buildings and other objects with grace like camera work and explosions. I expected a realistic showdown with two men of extraordinary strength and one with a cunning mental wit, and that is exactly what I got. I expected better direction though. There are a lot of shots between the fights with Dunn and The Horde that were very questionable, such as some of the POV shots. They seemed a little lazy and that Shymalan knew that action scenes were out of his element (see: The Last Airbender) so he experimented with something else that still didn’t quite work. The pacing also seemed off where as all the action and reveals felt sluggish and not snappy like they were supposed to be.
The problem with the writing proponent in regards the ending, well, actually I guess you could say in parts of the entire film, was the over explanation of things. Shyamalan was trying to make a grounded, real life comic book hero flick, paying homage with a little bit of parodying, while still being very serious. Yet the dialogue, twists, reveals, explanations from all the characters go on entirely too long. We get it. A characters explains just a couple of sentences about something, and I, and I’m pretty sure the rest of the audience, completely gets what is going on. However Shyamalan can’t help himself, almost to the point where he might as well have had a bullhorn over every individuals ear watching the film and screaming, “DO YOU GET IT?!?!?” Kind of like what Darren Aronofsky did with mother! if you needed any comparison.
But the rest of the film is pretty good, bordering on great at times. Out of a 2 hour and 10 minute run time. The first hour and 40 minutes are quite solid. The last half hour is when Shyamalan’s ego gets in the way. Without revealing the fates of the characters, I felt that one of them was sold a bit short, and one went on way too long. I agree with all the fates and the entire ending idea of the trilogy, it just needed to be constructed better. The acting is top notch all over the place, even Bruce Willis seemed like he wanted to actually be there. People complained that for a film titled after Samuel L. Jackson’s character, that it took too long for him to appear in the film, but I’d argue that that was a fantastic story choice and it felt natural in the ultimately sway of things, plus Jackson again, is good here. Anya Taylor-Joy is good too, and while you might think her character is bordering on being “stockholm syndrome” here, you might want to re watch Split, as everything makes sense and was set up beautifully in regards to her character arc in that film. The real scene stealer is, of course, James McAvoy. If you’ve seen Split (why wouldn’t you? If you watch Glass without seeing Unbreakable or Split then you are a weirdo and need to get your priorities checked) you know what I am talking about here. He lights up the screen every moment he is in this film.
But yeah, I liked Glass and I’m arguing against the majority here, so sue me.
There are some things I will agree with, such as it is definitely the weakest of the M. Night Shyamalan’s trilogy and that the ending stumbles a bit (although we disagree on how it stumbles), but it is not enough to completely topple the whole thing over. I think if another writer came in and polish M. Night’s screenplay, and if he had a couple of directors come in while he was shooting and gave him some pointers, it could have been a strong finish, as good as Split, or even better. But alas, Shyamalan basically financed the whole thing himself, and his ego got in the way. Critics are not giving it great reviews because they expected more but got less. For me, sometimes less is more. If only the ending would’ve been a little bit less…