director: M. Night Shyamalan
writer: M. Night Shyamalan
starring: James McAvoy, Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Anya Taylor-Joy and Sarah Paulson
genre: Drama | Sci-Fi | Thriller
released: 18 January 2019 (USA)
Almost everybody enjoyed ‘Unbreakable’ when it first came out, but at the time no one really thought that a sequel was needed or that these kind of films were even possible to get one. Especially when superhero films weren’t yet in full swing at the time. 19 years later, we get a conclusion to a story no one expected and a decent send off to the micro-verse of characters M. Night Shyamalan created.
After the events of ‘Unbreakable’ David Dunn (Bruce Willis) is still years later protecting the people in the city of Philadelphia with the help of his son. He ends up on the trail of the ‘Beast’, the schizophrenic serial killer (James McAvoy) who is loose after the events in ‘Split‘. In their encounter of each other they are stopped by an elite police force prepared for their abilities and willing to put them down if necessary. Together they will be united with Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson) in a psychiatric penitentiary to potentially fix their issues by the Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) or else.
We were possibly collectively as a film audience too harsh on M. Night Shyamalan after a couple of his bad films in the 2000’s. As we thought that the prodigal son had botched the praise we bestowed onto him and we didn’t want to be reminded of what we once originally thought of the new master of horror. The man who had a unique sense for mystery, intrigue, the good in his characters to overcome adversity and bring an incredible twist out of nowhere, which is a skill unknown to many movie-makers in the business today. Thankfully, despite his few bad films and ill advised studio films also, his own will to overcome adversary got the better of him and he managed to pull off good films again and on minimum budgets for modern Hollywood standards. And while ‘Glass’ isn’t anywhere close to some of his greater works, it is still a great accomplishment for a man who had to mortgage his own home to get the film made (source) and who was collectively by the world labeled as a one note, joke director.
‘Glass’ is an action thriller that in the hands of someone else would have been sensationalized to be a effects focused ride, rather than a character driven story that it is. However, this also partially because of the low budget the production has that the images you see on screen all look realistic and never pull away from the gravity of the situation or the importance the characters have in these scenes. Naturally, this doesn’t lead to your adrenaline being pumped and M. Night does have a weird fascination with the camera shot being centered on the characters face through a vest or harness of some sort more than once in the action scenes, but that wasn’t really the reason you were watching this film in the first place. As two films before it weren’t standouts of action either, but of drama and mystery. Additionally, M Night is no action director, even though he’s dabbled a bit with a couple of studio films.
Most admirable of all about this film is how it concludes and its sense of closure for all the characters. As this is a very character driven film from the main cast to its supporting characters. Personally, I went into this film open minded and not concerned if there was a twist or not and surprisingly the twist pulled off wasn’t unexpected and felt natural to the development of the plot and a better choice for the series and even for M. Night as a director. As its smart he went with this kind of twist to detract from the high concept twists of the past which might garner hate and vitriol from many in the audience. While this was the safe move, it also was a smart one. As the big twist in this conclusion couldn’t have possibly topped the third act’s of ‘Unbreakable’ or ‘Split’. Moreover, this ending was much more somber and cathartic for its 3 main characters who all got to believe in themselves and their purpose in the world.
Finally, this all works to a greater extent due to two additional factors, one being the original actors from the two previous films still being a part of the series despite the years and then also the small budget. As we already knew of the talent of M. Night and the actors involved and lastly another nice touch was the use of color in the film and that is noticeable maybe most of all in the scene of unification of the three superhuman characters in the psychiatric penitentiary.
If you’ve already seen the two previous films then it makes complete sense to also see this. Instead, if your a newcomer you won’t value it in the same way, despite the fact it has enough expositionary dialogue and flashbacks to fill in the gaps. All in all, it was nice ending to a series of fan favorite characters and hopefully its a stepping stone for M. Night to get more gigs in Hollywood again.