'Glass' Shatters Every Hope For M. Night Shyamalan's Franchise
By Andrea Thompson
Hey, M. Night Shyamalan, having a man dressed in woman's clothing as the first look at your menacing villain is NOT the best way to start out a movie in 2019. Aren't we past portraying the trans body as the ultimate horror? Especially when the object of their hatred just happens to be a group of teenage cheerleaders, basically the ultimate feminine ideal, with its contradictory implications of purity and sexuality.
So begins “Glass,” which is being billed at the sequel that took 19 years to make, yet still manages to feel like a complete waste of time. It picks up about three weeks after the events of “Split,” yet a great deal has managed to happen in that short period of time. Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy), the lone survivor of the serial killer now known as The Horde (James McAvoy), has managed to put her abusive uncle in jail, is shacked up with a nice new foster family, is back at her school, and is recovered pretty well for a young woman who not only came quite close to dying, but witnessed the deaths of others.
What made that movie mostly work seems to be completely forgotten, with Shyamalan taking the film's flaws to a whole new level in “Glass.” “Split” at least made its psychological theories sound feasible, and mostly eschewed any kind of excess, wisely allowing McAvoy's talent to run wild, as he fully embodied the many personalities housed inside the tormented Kevin, who often varied in age, gender, and ethnicity. But the central concepts in “Glass” are laughable, with a script that regularly descends into self-parody to such an extent that it's hard to envision an actual parody to this movie. It's so routinely terrible that it works against McAvoy's performance, which should once again serve as a kind of anchor to the action. Instead, his formidable abilities backfire since they're in service to such terrible writing.
Of course, his counterpart who's firmly on the side of good is back too. You can have a hero without an outright villain, but you can't have a bad guy without a moral opposing force. Bruce Willis is back as David Dunn, and he's not the only one, as his son Joseph (once again played by Spencer Treat Clark) is there to provide tech and intel. When David is caught while rescuing The Horde's would-be victims, they're both put in the same facility Mr. Glass is languishing in. And in the care of Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson), who specializes in helping people who believe they're superheroes. Even in a world overloaded with superhero media of all kinds, it's still pretty laughable, and the dialogue surrounding it does it no favors. Pretty soon, she's coming off as so ill-equipped it's hard to believe why this woman would be allowed anywhere near a person with mental illness.
It's even more depressing, since the first fight between David and The Horde is refreshingly realistic in an era filled with CGI, unworldly, computer-animated creatures, and beams of light that signal an end to the world as we know it. But if you really want more respect for your comic book fanaticism, stick with the MCU. All of the so-called insights about the comics that supposedly inspire “Glass” have all the insight and depth of a Google search. If you are a fan, chances are all you'll feel is insulted.
Then there's the sexism which cranks up the problematic aspects of the Hulk-Black Widow pairing to gamma ray levels. When Casey shows up, it turns out she's actually fallen in love with Kevin. Eww. It's not just that she's a high schooler who's encouraged to love a much older guy in order to keep him from reverting to his serial killer personality, thus curing him with her love, it's that it actually works. Her touch actually brings Kevin back and she's seen as a genuine force in his battle to stay good.
And since this is Shyamalan, there's a twist. Or twists rather. One of them you genuinely won't be able to predict, but there's also a twist of a twist of a twist, which is exhausing and robs the ending of its power, not to mention wasting a potentially unique new franchise. If this is what we can expect, why would we want to see anything else another movie, or god forbid, movies would have to offer?