Shyamalan can't continue his recent breakthrough with 'Glass'
In a twist worthy of the movies that started his career, I gave M. Night Shyamalan another chance. I should have seen this one coming.
In fairness, Shyamalan fairly blew me away with 2017's “Split,” a feisty low-budget thriller fueled by an unsubtle but great performance by James McAvoy as a person with split personalities who keeps a trio of young women hostage.
At the time, my expectations for a Shyamalan film were in the dirt, but it turned out to be his best movie since “The Sixth Sense,” following a spotty stretch for the director, who became victim of the creative freedom he was afforded.
I even begrudgingly gave him the buzzy post-credit scene in “Split” that (spoiler alert) was a callback to another hit from his early career, establishing (somewhat dubiously) that the film was connected to the universe of “Unbreakable,” a comic-book fueled story that hinted at everyday superheroes.
I thought it was a cute touch — more of an Easter egg than anything. I wish he'd left it at that. I should have known better.
Instead, we have “Glass,” the conclusion (hopefully) of a trilogy that we'll pretend was 19 years in the making.
“Glass” connects McAvoy's Kevin Wendell Crumb with the hero of “Unbreakable,” David Dunn (Bruce Willis), along with that film's villain/kinda antihero, Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson), in a self-referential world where super-humans live among us.
Yes, like X-Men. A lot like X-Men.
Without getting too much into the plot because I just saw the movie and really don't want to, the trio is connected by a psychiatrist (Sarah Paulson of “American Horror Story”) who, of course, specializes in dealing with people who think they are superheroes.
Hopes of Shyamalan again blowing me away didn't last long. “Glass” quickly feels like the Shyamalan who took early reports of his own storytelling genius too much to heart.
The cloying narrative threads here remind me of the man who wrote and directed “The Lady in the Water,” a film which, I will remind you, had a character literally named “Story,” and in which Shyamalan also cast himself as a writer who saves the universe with his words.
Here he has a superb cast at his disposal. McAvoy again transforms himself on a dime. Jackson lurks in the shadows for too long, but is rather delightful and wears the frontrunner for the year's best jacket. Willis showed up and hopefully got paid. “Split” star Anya Taylor-Joy mostly just made me want to watch “Thoroughbreds” again.
And you should watch “Thoroughbreds,” too, because in the awful doldrums of January theatrical releases, I fear “Glass” will be enough of a hit that we'll be subjected to an extension of this story.
I can't believe I'm saying this, but you should watch “Bird Box” instead.