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Review: ‘Glass’ Won’t Shatter Expectations, but It Will Leave Moviegoers Split

January 18, 2019Ben MK

Although M. Knight Shyamalan is a filmmaker known for his twist endings, it's easy to forget that going into Glass, a movie that serves as the conclusion of a trilogy that began with 2000's Unbreakable and continued 16 years later with Split.

Pitting Bruce Willis' David Dunn against James McAvoy's Kevin Wendell Crumb (aka The Beast, aka Hedwig, aka Miss Patricia, and so on and so on), Glass picks up a few weeks after the events of Split, with Kevin's numerous alternate personalities (collectively known as the Horde) holding four hapless cheerleaders captive in an abandoned factory. Fortunately for the Beast's would-be victims, David has remained dedicated to fulfilling his self-appointed mission as Philadelphia's impervious guardian angel — nicknamed "The Overseer" by its citizens — and he's taken it upon himself to rescue the teens.

A violent confrontation soon ensues, but it's not long before the pair are taken into custody by the authorities and brought to Raven Hill Psychiatric Hospital, where Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) promises to cure them of their superhuman delusions. As it so happens, though, Raven Hill is also home to a key figure from David's past — Samuel L. Jackson's Elijah Price (aka the titular Mr. Glass) — and having both David and Kevin confined together in the same space is just what Elijah needs to set his sinister master plan into motion.

What follows finds Shyamalan simultaneously at the top of his game and appealing to the lowest common denominator, as the first act of Glass plays out as nothing less than a masterclass in suspense-building, while the film's latter half is bound to test audiences' abilities to suspend their own disbelief. In both cases, it all comes down to pacing, which works wonderfully in the movie's favor up until the first fateful meeting between its three main characters; however, once the cards are laid on the table, the magic act begins to unravel, bottoming out in a drawn-out climax that only becomes more and more preposterous with each passing minute.

That's not to say moviegoers won't enjoy Shyamalan's dissection of various comic book tropes and themes, or admire how he's brought back Spencer Treat Clark, Charlayne Woodard and Anya Taylor-Joy to reprise their roles from the previous films without missing so much as a beat. However, as with Split, the best part of Glass is still McAvoy, who delivers yet another mesmerizing and scene-stealing performance, once again proving his impressive versatility as an actor by shifting effortlessly from persona to persona at breakneck speed.

The final result is ultimately imbalanced. But while some viewers may be left underwhelmed by Shyamalan's attempt to crossover two of his most successful creations, there's no denying the ambitiousness of the overall endeavor. Suffice to say, Glass doesn't live up to the caliber of Unbreakable or Split, nor does it wholly disappoint — so long as you temper your expectations appropriately.

Glass releases January 18th, 2019 from Universal Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of PG-13 for violence including some bloody images, thematic elements, and language. Its runtime is 2 hrs. 9 min.

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