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Well here’s a surprise, ain’t it? Who would have guessed that Shyamalan’s arguably last good movie was interlinked with his latest hit? I sure didn’t. But then again, I had forgotten about UNBREAKABLE, so when the big reveal came up, I was actually a little confused. I had to go home and onto Facebook for people to let me know.
My reviews can be found above, but summed up, I liked UNBREAKABLE. I think it’s a pretty flawed film, but it was certainly fascinating enough to hold my attention. SPLIT, I maintain, was just okay, but anything with Anya Taylor-Joy is always going have bonus points for me. By no means his worse work, but I didn’t click with it like everyone else seemed to.
The story looks like David Dunn, Elijah, and The Beast are all in the same asylum and we’re all just counting down the minutes before we get a big fight scene.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Samuel L. Jackson (LIFE ITSELF , KONG , TARZAN , AVENGERS  and ULTRON , CAPTAIN AMERICA: WINTER SOLDIER , IRON MAN 2 , Star Wars Episodes I , II , and III , SHAFT , and upcoming films CAPTAIN MARVEL  and SHAFT ), Bruce Willis (DEATH WISH , and upcoming films CORNERMAN  and MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN ), and James McAvoy (SHERLOCK GNOMES , ATOMIC BLONDE , X-MEN: FIRST CLASS , FUTURE PAST , and APOCALYPSE , VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN , PENELOPE , and upcoming films X-MEN: DARK PHOENIX  and IT: CHAPTER 2 ).
In support, we have Anya Taylor-Joy (THOROUGHBREDS , THE WITCH , and upcoming films THE NEW MUTANTS  and PLAYMOBIL: THE MOVIE ), Sarah Paulson (OCEANS 8 , REBEL/RYE , CAROL , and the upcoming THE GOLDFINCH ), Charlayne Woodard (2 episodes of TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES [2008 – 2009]), and Spencer Treat Clark (THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT ).
Now for the crew. Writing and directing, we have M. Night Shyamalan, known for THE VISIT (2015). Composing the score is West Dylan Thordson, known for JOY (2015). The cinematographer is Mike Gioulakis, known for IT FOLLOWS (2015), and upcoming films US (2019) and UNDER THE SILVER LAKE (2019). Finally, the co-editors are Luke Ciarrocchi (THE VISIT) and Blu Murray (15:17 TO PARIS  and SULLY ).
The critics may not be taking too kindly to this movie, but I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t interested in seeing what Shyamalan’s got up his sleeve. I should probably not expect anything too amazing. So long as we have a good script and characters, I’ll be happy enough.
This is my honest opinion of: GLASS
The Overseer, aka David Dunn (Bruce Willis), has not slowed down his career as a superhero, still fighting the good fight against those that cause others harm. With information from his son, Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark), he’s tracked down a possible area where a group of four teenage cheerleaders have been kidnapped by The Horde (James McAvoy). Locating and freeing them, he has a brief fight with The Beast, but is stopped by the police, who take both David and The Horde to the local asylum, Raven Hill Memorial, which also houses its most famous inmate, Mr. Glass, aka Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), who has been kept heavily sedated for much of his time there. All three have been brought here by Doctor Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson), who wants to convince these men that they have a delusion that they need to break away from.
Well, I can finally say that Shyamalan has made a movie in recent years that I legitimately like. Having said that, I think the movie is still not as great as the die-hard fans are saying.
Let’s be perfectly honest with ourselves. The title character of the movie doesn’t even really make an appearance until maybe half and hour into the movie. Even then, it’s probably an hour before he actually does anything all that meaningful. Now, when he does actually start contributing to the story, that’s when the movie is at its finest. But in order to get up to that point, I can’t help but wonder why this wasn’t titled something different and more appropriate.
Let me get this straight, movie. These bright flashes of light are meant to trigger a new personality. Yes? Clearly, these personalities communicate with one another, so why aren’t these personalities telling each other to close their eyes as they charge? Blindfold themselves with their shirt and destroy the machinery. It’s not like Dr. Staple is constantly protected by guards. And also, why does she never ask for these people to demonstrate their abilities. I can understand why David doesn’t resist, because that would mean fighting his way through a crowd of orderlies and security guards who are just doing their jobs and doesn’t want to hurt them. He has to play by their rules, but Ellie never wants these people to prove that they are who they think they are. You’d think that in order to break a delusion, you’d have to prove to them that they’re delusional, rather than telling them that they are.
Anyone else notice how dumb that one orderly was? He flashes The Horde every time he talks… wanting him to stop talking… a person with twenty-four personalities. Christ, the flashing is triggered if he comes too close to the machinery, so you’re safe. Also… just walk the f**k out of the room. I don’t understand why this was particularly hard for him. To make matters worse, he’s the nice orderly. The one built up as being “too nice,” and yet he’s flashing bright lights at this man who is believed to need help, and for all he knows, is making the situation a whole lot worse.
<<<SPOILERS – highlight to reveal>>> [ And even though this is Shyamalan’s best work in years, both of his bad writing and bad direction has taken center stage. I won’t give much away, but we all know that there’s a climactic fight scene at the end. Dr. Staple urges Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy) to convince The Beast to let Kevin out so that the situation can be calmed… but she doesn’t do anything until the script allows her to. It takes a good ten minutes before we’re reminded, “Oh yeah, she’s supposed to do something.” ] <<<END SPOILERS>>>
Here’s a list of smaller problems that I had.
- Wait, so nineteen years, David’s been doing the vigilante thing and only now the police are aggressively looking for him? Shit, took ’em long enough.
- I feel like a holding on the cheerleaders’ legs was a bit awkward. Their legs weren’t saved, movie. Their expressions matter more.
- Did anyone else think that Charlayne Woodard’s old-lady make-up was a little too obvious? She looks the same age as Samuel L. Jackson… which just made me laugh because he’s actually older by five years.
- Shyamalan really loves his upside down shots… Christ, stop with those!
But, I gotta be honest with myself, the movie does more than a few good things to tip the scale in its favor.
One of the greatest accomplishments of the movie is the execution of its very idea. We’re already told that the movie is going to throw all of these people into an asylum together and the doctors would eventually be proven wrong about their powers, and that they’re “insane” would be a footnote in the overall story. Nope, I was dead wrong. It’s the main focus. But here’s what’s so brilliant about it. It actually works. Due in no small part to Paulson’s genuine performance, the movie actually does make you start to believe that these people aren’t superpowered. Things are explained that make you think that these people have convinced themselves, and all of us for that matter, that they’re not who they, or we, think they are. Bar none, this is Shyamalan’s best script in years. Imperfect, sure, but it’s got some seriously grade-A moments.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that Clark was an actual character. In fact, because he was never portrayed in the trailers and a single post stated that the movie was going to use unused footage from UNBREAKABLE, I started to fear that Clark was simply going to be a glorified cameo, with maybe one or two appearances at his current age. But nope, he gets quite a bit of screen time. He serves as the tech guy who tracks down bad guys for David to find and is instrumental in locating where The Horde and the kidnapped teen girls are. By the way, on his first day walking around what appears to be a pretty large area to explore, it’s pretty freakin’ coincidental that David happens across Hedwig almost immediately as he starts searching. Very… very coincidental. But that’s not the point. We’re talking about Clark here, and I gotta hand it to the dude, his acting improved tremendously. Okay, it’s not like the guy fell of the face of the Earth, since his turn in UNBREAKABLE, but outside of LAST HOUSE, which I don’t remember him being in, this is a far cry from the hammy acting he put out in the first flick. I’m not planning on picking on him, or anything, but as far as kid actors go, I would never have suspected that he’d go on to be legitimately talented. Usually successful kid actors with talent go on to do great work… or have really screwed up lives, but the less talented ones often stray from the business altogether. I’m glad to see that Clark is around and evolving his craft.
I know I don’t really need to get into it, but there’s really no point in skirting around the topic. James McAvoy is a lot of fun to watch as he bounces from one personality to another. In a single take, he’ll bounce between at least three to maybe even four personalities flawlessly. Give the man some serious credit, he knows how to make those shifts look good. I’ll even give credit, I’m much more intimidated by The Beast this go-around than I was in the previous installment. Maybe I just need to see it again, but something about The Beast felt a little less silly and much more menacing. I think the impression that I got from SPLIT was that The Beast was some sort of pet. Like, they wanted to give him people to kill. But here, it seems like he’s the one who is primarily in charge of all of the personalities and even seems like there’s a clear hierarchy. The Beast is the one calling the shots, then it’s Patricia, then Hedwig, and the others are sort of just there for McAvoy to show off his fun personality shifts. <<<SPOILERS>>> [ What I find especially interesting is that all of these personalities, even The Beast, all seem like they exist to protect Kevin from more pain, likely created when his mother was abusing him. This gives a whole new dimension to these personalities that I found fascinating. In a way, I’m a little upset that he was killed off at the end for the sole reason that I would have loved to see Kevin and his personalities evolve as characters themselves. ] <<<END SPOILERS>>>
And let’s talk about the man of the hour, Elijah. How could he not be great? I mean, if given a proper script, the man can act circles around the best of them. Here is no different. From the moment he comes on screen, you know what everyone in this movie says is going on, but the way his scenes are filmed, you know something ain’t right. And when shit finally starts going down, Jackson doesn’t disappoint. He’s manipulating people and events, he’s sizing everyone up, it’s a whole lot of fun.
Overall, yeah, I dug this film. It’s got a few holes in it that make characters pretty dumb, and it certainly takes way too long to actually get to the title character. With that said, the characters are well written, the story isn’t half bad, and for all intents and purposes, it’s a completely unique superhero story. Can’t say that very often these days. I don’t know if Shyamalan is planning to make sequels, but I’m going to say that I hope not. This was a satisfying movie. To build on top of it feels like the magic won’t be captured again. But as is, I can’t say “magic” was captured, but I will say my attention was. As a recommendation, yeah, if you were a fan of both UNBREAKABLE and SPLIT, I think you’ll enjoy this final installment, like everyone else seems to.
My honest rating for GLASS: 4/5
Next week’s reviews: