By Matt Lau & John Mulderig
The ending of M Night Shyamalan’s 2016 psychological horror thriller Split surprised audiences as it linked cinematic universes with his mysterious Unbreakable drama of 2000, where a man discovers the shocking truth behind his super-human existence.
The culmination of these two narratives has built up the highly anticipated 2019 sequel Glass, named after Mr Glass, a brittle-boned antagonist obsessed with proving the existence of super-natural powers among seemingly-ordinary humans.
Glass (Universal) brings three stellar Hollywood names – Samuel L Jackson (Elijah Price aka Mr Glass), Bruce Willis (David Dunn) and James McAvoy (Kevin Wendell Crumb, plus “23 personalities”) – together in an unconventional superhero flick by today’s big-screen standards.
Film critics brazenly document Shyamalan’s renowned hit-or-miss nature with his filmmaking, and Glass is, unfortunately, a miss.
Those willing to entertain the real-life existence of superheroes, as well as those well-versed in the previous films of director Shyamalan, would appear to be the target audience for this thriller.
Viewers lacking either of those qualifications, however, may find Shyamalan’s latest long on eerie atmosphere but wanting in coherence.
The main trio are locked up in an asylum and placed them under the careful watch of Dr Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson), who firmly opposes Mr Glass’ thesis and purports to specialise in treating those with delusions of DC or Marvel-style grandeur.
Abuse victim-turned-schizophrenic-murderer Kevin Wendell Crumb has multiple personalities, one of whom, “the Beast”, appeared in Split to have capabilities not found in regular folks.
Glass achieves little beyond affording McAvoy the opportunity to demonstrate an impressive talent for switching from one persona to the next at a moment’s notice. His adeptness hardly compensates, though, for the muddled story in which his varied characters are stuck.
Also reappearing are Dunn’s son, Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark), who works at dad’s shop but also aids him in moonlighting as a vigilante, Elijah’s unnamed mom (Charlayne Woodard), and escapee from Crumb captivity Casey Cook (Anya Taylor-Joy).
Joseph and Mama are true believers in their respective relatives’ superhuman endowments. Casey is the only one who can connect with Kevin – having endured similar mistreatment as a child – and potentially get him to control “the Beast”.
Many of the grown-ups for whom Glass is acceptable will find the debate on which it hinges pointless.
The film contains much violence with considerable gore, including an off-screen act of cannibalism, a few gruesome images, a couple of uses of profanity, occasional crude language, and an obscene gesture.
The Catholic News Service classification is A-III – adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 – parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.