Friday, 18 January 2019

Glass - Review

Even by Unbreakable, writer-director M. Night Shaymalan's films had become synonymous with a twist ending. In fact, The Sixth Sense arguably began the current *SPOILER WARNING* culture we have now, albeit at a time when social media was in its infancy.
However with his 13th feature film Split, he pulled off his greatest trick. Revealing at the film's conclusion that James McAvoy's Kevin Wendell Crumb existed within the Unbreakable universe and it was a secret, stealth sequel to the film setting up more possibilities than Kevin had personalities.
Unbreakable is one of the finest superhero movies (coming at a time before the genre would see its resurgence through X-Men, Spider-Man and the MCU) and the best movie *about* comic books ever made.
The prospect of seeing this expanded universe of Bruce Willis's David Dunn and Samuel L. Jackson's Elijah Price share the screen with Hedwig, Barry, Dennis, Patricia, The Beast et all is a tantalising prospect.
Therefore it would be fair to say that Glass shatters those expectations as easily as Mr. Glass's brittle bones. Shaymalan does not deliver his version of Avengers Infinity War but instead gives us a superhero version of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest as new character Dr. Ellie Staple (the always terrific Sarah Paulson) forces the captured trio to face the possibility that their superhuman powers are simply in their mind. A result of trauma coupled with an over-exposure to comic book culture which has come to oversaturate the world.
It is very pleasing to see Bruce Willis deliver his best performance in years. In fact, one could go as far to say that his last great performance was Unbreakable back in 2001 but it is good to know that he can still turn it on when he gives a damn about the project and not just in it for the paycheck.
Samuel L. Jackson is also on fine form but spends much of the first act in a rather comatose state but soon gets the opportunity to start monologuing before too long.
However the real star of the show, once again, is James McAvoy. Having spent time with the characters in the first movie, his skill and craft has been honed even more that the audience can know instantly tell which of the main characters within Kevin are emerging each time just by his body language. It is an incredible sight to behold and if the world was a just and fair place, this is the type of performance that should be considered when it comes to Awards season. No one else has done anything like what McAvoy has done with a character(s) over these two movies.
Yet the multiple/split personality is perhaps where Glass ultimately loses its superpowers as the film struggles to settle on a tone, changing almost from scene to scene as quickly as Kevin's personalities come into the light. Although titled Glass, it is very much a Split sequel and the sheer energy of McAvoy seems at odds with the quiet and stillness of the other two characters. The film's pacing is languid and more in keeping with the slow burn of Unbreakable but starts with a bang and builds to a third act "showdown" that is full of the traditional twists and turns you would expect from this filmmaker but in a way that is so bold and unexpected that it will undoubtedly Split opinions, pardon the pun.
While it might not quite shatter the glass ceiling of the perfect superhero trilogy, Glass is a fascinating and thrilling analysis of comic book culture and the way we view "heroes".

3 stars

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