M. Night Shyamalan has always been a filmmaker who seems a bit too full of himself, a disagreeable trait that manifests through his writing and directing style. This has never been more evident than with his latest pet project “Glass,” a long-winded, thinly-premised, half-baked mess of a movie. It’s a project that could’ve (and should’ve) been a slam dunk but, and it’s rare when this happens, I cannot think of one positive thing to say about this film.
In this supposed grand finale of Shyamalan’s “Unbreakable” and “Split,” villains Elijah Price / Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson) and Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy), and hero David Dunn (Bruce Willis), are brought together under unusual circumstances, as the trio find themselves in the same mental health facility.
There’s a half-baked subplot about psychiatrist Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson), the treating physician who specializes in patients who believe they have superhuman powers. She uses science to explain away Dunn’s strength and the myth of Crumb’s violent alter-ego The Beast. But as the film reminds us (as if nobody in the audience has ever heard of a comic book before), there’s always a mastermind with a nefarious conclusion in mind.
The lean story isn’t helped by the clunky dialogue and the phoned-in turns from the cast. The performances are so bad that they’re borderline laughable, with a brooding, half-whispering Willis, and Jackson stuck with no lines for the majority of the movie as his character is in a drug-induced stupor. Anya Taylor-Joy reprises her role from “Split” as abducted girl Casey, giving it her teary-eyed all with weak (and often ridiculous) material.
McAvoy is the only one handed anything to do, but it’s mostly a showy, rapid-fire back and forth with his list of multiple personalities. It’s mildly amusing at first to watch him turn his “horde” on and off with the literal flash of light, but then the repetition made me want to pull out my hair after the third (of many more) identical scenes. The movie comes at you with more of the same, over and over and over, in terms of plot and scene, a fifteen minute idea stretched out over two hours.
Everything about “Glass” is a disappointment. The direction is shoddy, the original score is an eardrum-assaulting lesson in mediocrity, and the draggy snail’s pace of the story is an aggravating endurance test. It’s an unfocused, strangely dumbed-down play-by-play explanation of comic book writing styles, faux sentimental family moments, and some of the very worst visual effects that mostly appear choppy and blurry. Even Shyamalan’s trademark twist ending is a bust here. It’s like he’s both given up and run out of steam.