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Glass (Movie Review)

Glass (Movie Review)
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READ MIKE SPRAGUE'S TAKE ON THE FILM HERE

PLOT: Mr. Glass’ (Samuel L. Jackson) nefarious plot pits superhuman David Dunn (Bruce Willis) against Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy), a super-villain with 24 different personalities.

REVIEW: So what happens when you SPLIT UNBREAKABLE GLASS? Indeed, such is the pressing query upon M. Night Shyamalan’s latest cinematic riddle, which loftily attempts to bridge two previous films released 16 years apart – one a critical and commercial smash, the other a middling meretricious mess – in hopes of erecting a grand gestalt of spectacular greatness and sci-fi shock and awe. Alas, GLASS does not deliver what it’s promised, as its sum total nowhere near equals the value of its few standout parts.

Worse than that, M. Night must feel handcuffed by the perceived obligation to include in every one of his films a trademarked twist-ending that, by now, has frankly become more of a sad gimmicky crutch than anything close to resembling what he pulled off with THE SIXTH SENSE. There’s really no other way to explain the existence of yet another needlessly rushed third-act rug-pull, one that in GLASS threatens to undo all of the good acting work that precedes such a bewilderingly extraneous last-second coil. So for paying customers, the proper response to the question of what happens when you SPLIT UNBREAKABLE GLASS, is that you undoubtedly feel irate, lied to, cheated on and damn near ripped off! Par for the M. Night course, I suppose.

For the last 19 years, David Dunn (Willis) has operated as a street vigilante under his trusty rain poncho. Now running a home security shop in Philadelphia, he continues his crime-fighting ways with the help of his son Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark), who attunes to police scanners to keep the heat of his papa’s back. While on a routine walk one day, Dunn impossibly stumbles into the only other man on the street, Kevin Wendell Crumb (McAvoy), who is in the psychotic throes of one of his 24 alter-egos, the nine-year-old Hedwig. Once touching, Dunn envisions Kevin’s kidnap plot involving a quartet of high-school cheerleaders chained up in an abandoned building, and soon he’s on a recon and rescue mission. Problem is, when Dunn and Crumb exit the building, a throng of coppers await, and soon both men are sent to the same Mental Institution that Mr. Glass (Jackson) has been admitted to for the past 19 years, apparently remaining in a catatonic state. It’s all way too coincidental to believe. We then meet Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson), who specializes in treating psychotic patients whose primary delusion of grandeur is believing that they are superheroes. Dr. Staple tries to convince the three men that they are indeed sick in the head, and not superhuman as previously thought. However, once Glass breaks out of his silent stupor and reveals his dastardly design of showing the world their kind exists, doing so by publicly pitting Dunn against Crumb’s most lethal alter, The Beast, then the movies many tethers begin unraveling.

Before excoriating, mention must be made of James McAvoy’s performance in the film, which is likely the best aspect GLASS has to boast. Sure he has the showiest role(s), but he still gives the best performances in the film, as he effortlessly slides from one creepy character to another across a colorful array accents, physical ticks, hiccups and manic gyrations and other personal affectations. He’s absolutely mesmeric when onscreen, and remains the strongest focal point whenever he is. Unfortunately, the quality of acting across the board is almost sullied by a bevy of irritations M. Night could have avoided. The first is the tone-deaf imbalance of absurd humor deriving from SPLIT, and the mirthless austerity from UNBREAKABLE. Too often we find ourselves laughing at Kevin (or Hedwig or whomever he’s embodying) at precisely the wrong moments, like when Dr. Staple tries to have a painfully serious discussion on mental health, multiple personality disorder, superhero projection, etc. The two diametric poles between silly humor and severe drama in GLASS simply do not attract. They aren’t organically linked. As a result, as good as McAvoy’s performances are, they oddly only seem best when viewed as single independent snippets, by themselves, devoid of context. When you factor them into the rest of the film and its overly-grave tone, they tend to impress far less.

Another major problem of the movie is the structure of its pace. It’s not a slow movie or anything like that, but it’s a movie that for the first hour and a half, while perfectly entertaining throughout (despite the tonal issues), feels like all setup, all preamble, all preparation for something far grander to erupt in the end. This is even referred to in comic book parlance within the film as the showdown. But for all the time invested in the build-up, the showdown is an utter and abject failure to land. In this can be included the superfluous subplot involving Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy), who inexplicably opts on her own volition to visit Kevin, her prior captor in SPLIT, in prison in order to reach his inner self. Trite at best, unfathomable at worst, but the only function Casey serves is to get Kevin to bypass “The Horde” (his alters) and remain himself.

And yet, needless as it may be, it pales compared to this obligated, self-indulgent sense that M. Night has in being the brand-name “twist” filmmaker, as if he were William Castle in the 50s. It’s a counterproductive spot to operate from in general, but in the case of GLASS, M. Night lazily shoehorns not one, but two wildly confounding last-ditch efforts at this very twist ending we’re talking about, resulting in a mad-dash expository onslaught that all but undoes the scant good that precedes it. The showdown that M. Night promises in GLASS ultimately cracks, spiders and shatters into a pathetic, bathetic conclusion. All told, GLASS proves that the loose thread tying SPLIT and UNBREAKABLE wasn’t as worthy a one to weave together as initially thought.

Source: AITH

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