For the moviegoers who didn’t consume Unbreakable (2000) or Split (2016), Glass is a rare movie where you just wouldn’t know what to expect from it. Will it be a full-blown superhero movie? Will it be a trio partnership to face a humanity threat? As funny as those questions sound, I had it running in my brain since learning about the eventual release of Glass.
Of course, clouding me with the most assumptions was Samuel L. Jackson’s character, Elijah Pierce, who can be seen anchoring down a wheel chair in the release poster. But beneath him, lies a reflection of that character, standing up and clothed in a superhero-like suit that grabs outmost attention. At that moment, it nailed a conception in my mind that the trio depicted in Glass will eventually go through some transformation phase to awaken the superhero deep behind their, rather disgraceful appearance.
Taking place after the events of Split, the film follows David Dunn (Bruce Willis), a security officer with supernatural ability and strength, as he tracks down The Horde, which was the name given to Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy), as he suffers from a rare disorder that suffocated him with 24 split personalities. Hence, the name of the prequel, Split. Why would Dunn bother to track down a sick man? For one, he kidnaps young women, and more importantly, his 24th persona dubbed The Beast, possess superhuman strength and ferocity. Does that make some sense at all?
Inevitably, the complexity of the terms and McAvoy’s character warrants for a pro tip, something that I rarely do. So, here is my pro tip to the would-be viewers of Glass; The Horde is not just Kevin’s personalities. Rather, they are like 24 different persons living inside Kevin’s body, fighting to take over the consciousness, in which, they term the moment any of them takes over as “in the light”. In fact, The Horde has been continuously taking over Kevin’s body that his innate consciousness never ever surfaced for years.
Imagine, there are 24 persons sitting in a dark room, with a stage, at the center, lit up with a blinding spot light. Each and every one of them wants their own moment on that stage. But even they are off stage, they are fully aware of what the person currently on stage is doing. Such is the case for The Horde, and having seen the Beast’s capability, most of the personalities worship him for his extraordinary strength.
Still here? I hope I didn’t bore you or scare you away with such terminologies. It’s just the case that in my opinion, the experience would be so much better if the audience are equipped with some basic understanding to Glass, to prevent that imminent brain workout. Whereas for Dunn and Elijah Pierce aka Mr Glass (Samuel L. Jackson), those characters are way easier to comprehend, hence, I’ll leave it you to evaluate them yourselves.
Right off the bat, Glass exudes a great amount of style in its cinematography. During the intro, the moment when the camera is chasing a subject who is running away is re-imagined as a graceful slow motion instead of shaky camera work. It is just the beginning of slew of great camera placement and angles by Shyamalan, in which the others can be observed later in the plot.
After a brief intro, as Dunn is tracking down for The Horde, the scene switched to a group of four high school girls, being chained to a huge table. They are eventually visited by Kevin in the form of Hedwig, a nine year old kid, who encircles them as he roller-skates and talks to them. The camera was pointing at Hedwig from the girls’ point of view, and then followed his circling motion. Beyond that, there were some cleverly infused spookiness within that very scene, as it made the audience believe that “the Beast may come out any time now”.
The clever and unexpected approach to camera work is perhaps the one thing that never runs out in the film. Other than that ever-present, suspenseful sound of violin strokes, of course, that seems to grind against your backbone whenever it strikes. With those two in my mind, I begin to believe that Glass is not the superhero film which I had assumed it to be. It is more like an elusive piece of art, rather than a loud stage performance that promises over-the-top action.
Talking about stylistic approach, the act by James McAvoy alone is worthy for your ticket to Glass. Granted, most possibly you won’t have the chance to see such a performance again in a long time. His most outrageous impersonification is definitely the Beast. That disturbing expression often seen when the Beast takes over really gave me the chills. Why not? He was seen smiling but at the same time looking like he was enduring a deep, excruciating pain. Oh my.
While the camera direction and McAvoy’s act are generally favorably points, the unavoidable topic of debate has to be the plot. To give proper credit where it’s due, Shyamalan has quite a challenging story-line to begin with. Glass is no ordinary superhero flick where bombastic action and explosion scenes will usually do part of the trick. On top of that, just imagine the comic fan base that each of the character in MCU or DCEU has. You get the idea. Glass simply doesn’t have such privileges to start.
With that said, I really, really like Shyamalan’s limbo approach towards the story-line for the first two acts, which made up to about 70% of the plot. It is just world class. He had gone through a great deal to make sure the progress of the plot is well balanced, shackling the audience from falling into the believer camp, who believes superheroes are real, or the opposite.
Just right at that very moment when I was about to succumb to the belief that the trio are really superheroes, he made me retreat and reconsider my thoughts with faltering scenes, like having the superheroes almost physically overpowered by merely a few men. It is quite embarrassing to watch them at that losing moment, nonetheless, that begs you the question; have you been watching a Sucker Punch spin-off all the time? But still, a few scenes next, the characters go through a moment that strongly hints their extraordinary ability or strength, that is impossible for any human being to achieve.
Even in the midst of all that chaos and uncertainty, Glass somehow promised a grand showdown, hidden somewhere deep within the ending of the film. After all, Glass is still a third installment of a trilogy nevertheless, and a finale pulled off in grandeur seems to be an appropriate closure to the series. Well, that didn’t quite happen.
As my hunger for that showdown peaked at one moment, something abrupt happened, and the plot began to gradually release hints that there’s no way any heightened climax was going to happen, at least not in Glass. Soon, I realized that I was anxiously waiting for the climax that never exists. Out of a sudden, I felt that even though I liked the progress of the plot prior to that event, all the wait and the hype have not been worthwhile. The overwhelming letdown began to creep into my overall impression of the film. Glass, was shattered.
Addict Verdict, AV:
Glass can be considered a unicorn of superhero movies, which treads on a challenging thin line; believability. Yes, that word and superheroes don’t blend well together, but Glass succeeded in bringing you superheroes that emitted tonnes of realism. Boasting genius cinematography and artistic story-telling, the film skillfully keeps the audience indecisive on whether the heroes in it are truly Unbreakable, or can easily be Split. Glass, was glimmering with sparkle until that fateful ending that did injustice to the film, and thus, Glass crumbled into pieces. — The Film Addict
*This review was originally published on The Film Addict