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Glass

Incarcerated in a mental institution, superhuman security guard David Dunn (Bruce Willis) meets up with his old nemesis Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson), as well as a new opponent with 24 personalities (James McAvoy).

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Necessary warning: This text contains spoilers for UNBREAKABLE and SPLIT. If you have not seen UNBREAKABLE, GLASS will only make a limited amount of sense to you.

In 2000, when he was still acclaimed as opposed to infamous, M. Night Shyamalan made UNBREAKABLE, a thriller mystery that subtly and intelligently turned a man’s search for an identity into a superhero origin story. In 2016, Shyamalan broke the spell of making increasingly preposterous and terrible films with SPLIT, a psychological thriller about “The Horde”, 23 personalities in one body, kidnapping teenagers in order to prepare for the arrival of a 24th personality called “The Beast”. Predominantly a vehicle to let James McAvoy show off his range, SPLIT turned into fullblown supernatural horror towards the end and linked itself to UNBREAKABLE through a cameo by the latter’s protagonist David Dunn (Bruce Willis).
GLASS now fully connects the characters and narratives of the previous two films: with The Horde still kidnapping cheerleaders and David now regularly patrolling the streets as a hooded vigilante, their paths inevitably cross. The battle of Superman versus the Beast is cut short by the arrival of the police and both parties’ incarceration in the mental institution of Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson). The hospital has been extensively modified to contain the brawlers but despite this obvious awareness of her guests’ special abilities, Dr. Staple wants to talk her patients out of what she considers delusions of grandeur. During group therapy they are joined by supervillain “Mr. Glass” (Samuel L. Jackson), now jailed and kept catatonically sedated. Needless to say that he soon snaps out of it soon and, thanks to some astonishingly lax security protocol, gets to initiate his special plan involving The Beast and David.
Up to this point, GLASS glitters with promise. Mainly this is due to James McAvoy who repeats his party trick from SPLIT and gets to show some of the personalities not previously given their time in the light. Jackson and Willis on the other hand get to drool and look concerned respectively before the plot sends them into the supposedly climactic battle. Here the film references the template set by the Marvel Universe films but has neither the budget necessary to carry off this move, nor is the writer-director willing to let go of his oh-so-smart subtext enough to indulge in some outright spectacle. And it being Shyamalan, there are two twists in the end, the first being blunt and obvious, while the final one sacrifices the last remnant of joy the audience might have still felt for a political message.

Where UNBREAKABLE cleverly slid pieces together to create an unexpected image, GLASS can only offer the dull image of a story falling apart.

Christian Klose

Credits

USA 2018, 129 min
Language: English
Genre: Action, Horror, Fantasy, Science Fiction
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Author: M. Night Shyamalan
DOP: Mike Gioulakis
Montage: Luke Ciarrocchi, Renaldo Kell
Music: West Dylan Thordson
Distributor: The Walt Disney Company
Cast: James McAvoy, Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Anya Taylor-Joy, Sarah Paulson, Spencer Treat Clark
FSK: 16
Release: 17.01.2019

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