This was a movie that I already went in thinking “How the fuck did this get made?” in a good way. Hollywood seems to mostly follow certain patterns, especially within their different genres. But I honestly couldn’t tell you of a time about a movie being a sequel to two separate films spanning fifteen years difference. The 2019 movie was written directed by M. Night Shyamalan. He also wrote and directed Unbreakable (2000) and Split (2016). Going into the theater, I didn’t know what to expect. M. Night is pretty hit or miss these days but I can say that this is a great addition the two amazing movies in the franchise.
Lately we have been seeing a lot of sequels to movies that were good twenty years ago. Some turn out amazing (ex. Bladerunner 2049) and some end up terrible (ex. Independence Day: Resurgence.) After the box office success of Unbreakable it surprises me that no studios had interest in a sequel. When developing the original movie, M. Knight had played around with an idea to use a villain that had strength equal to the main character. We didn’t get to see the full realization of this character until he came out with Split, Starring James McAvoy. What shocked people in theaters for Split was an after credits scene linking it to Unbreakable. I haven’t seen Unbreakable for a very long time, but I remember liking it. On the other hand, I very vividly remember loving Split. Then we got the announcement for Glass and I didn’t even know how to handle the emotions. I am glad to say I left Glass in amazement that M. Knight was able to pull off the hat trick.
This movie makes great use of the three different characters. James McAvoy has another performance that will knock your socks off. We get to see the return of Dennis, Patricia, Hedwig, and The Beast. The ability this actor has to switch between characters is something you don’t see often. You actually feel like they are different performances and all four of them go through their own individual character arcs. A few of his other personalities appear in the light but really that just is for comedic moments and James flexing his acting skills. To be fair a few moments in the film are actually funny, mostly due to everyone’s favorite nine-year old Hedwig. We also get to see the return of the character’s original persona, Kevin Wendell Crumb, in moments that really break your heart. The return of Anya Taylor-Joy’s character and her interactions with Kevin brings closure to the events of Split. Honestly I would have just been happy with the sequel we got to see with this character alone. The Beast’s power is based on a religious like feeling called ‘The Horde’ which is the collective of personalities that believe in him. What happens when they start to doubt his power? Especially after encountering another man with equal strength.
One of the feelings I had leaving the theater was, although he was a great addition to the film, The Beast really wasn’t needed. The real story is what has been happening to the past nineteen year for the hooded super hero David Dunn and fragile but ruthless super villain Elijah Peirce. While David has been kicking ass Elijah has been rotting away in a mental hospital. We also see the return of David’s son, Spencer Clark, and Elijah’s mother, Charlayne Woodard, who both reprise their roles from Unbreakable. In the first film, Bruce Willis plays a man who was convinced he was a comic book super hero thanks to the immense efforts by his friend, and arch-nemesis, Mister Glass, played by Samuel L. Jackson. That same commentary on comic books and super hero movies is amplified in Glass. We are given a hero of unwavering duty pinned against a mad man with a superior intellect and an evil plan. It’s really just so much fun to watch a simple and grounded super hero movie that focuses more on the development and psyche of the characters than flashy suits and poppy soundtracks. The way M. Knight plays the story really makes you think about the modern genre of heroes and villains in the likes of the MCU. Especially the parts you don’t see coming.
Look, it’s an M. Night Shayamalan movie. And that means there has to be a twist right? I think at this point, being upset about a “twist” is like being upset there’s a big CGI monster in a DCU movie… and that’s kind of brought up in this movie. The whole story revolves around an idea that Sarah Paulson’s character brings up. There is no logical way for super heroes and super villains to exist. There will always be ways to explain them away. But for as evil and ruthless as Elijah is, and trust me this is the version of the character I have been waiting for, he is inspiring. A hero is only as strong as they believe they are. Being a hero doesn’t mean climbing to the top of a building in front of millions of people and having a giant cinematic fight. It’s about believing in yourself. Leaning into your strengths no matter what they are. You’re differences are your powers, not a fancy suit, alien technology, or magic.
M. Night may have twists in this movie, but you’ll be only upset by them based on if you think the movie should go a certain direction. The real twist is that movie doesn’t just survive The Snappening, it will continue to thrive in my favorite’s list. I applaud the direction this movie took and the ride to get their. All of the performances were great and the story itself was something truly refreshing. I think “super hero fatigue” is a real thing and movies like Glass make me believe there are some people in Hollywood that do not want to follow the mold. If there is another movie for the franchise in five years or even fifteen, I’ll go see it. Because this “cinematic universe” Shayamalan has created is full of brutal savagery, original concepts, and characters you route to live up to their full potential. Even if a million people have to die in the process.
Movie watched and review written by: Troy Smith