“Let your dad go for a walk”
I want to be completely transparent before writing this review: I am not a fan of M. Night Shyamalan. This isn’t to say that I haven’t watched his movies, as I have subjected myself to nearly all of them. But every time, there are fatal flaws that seem to be overlooked for the sake of some vision or theme that Shyamalan takes too far. This goes for his widely panned ones like The Happening (wind does not work that way) to the ones most people liked at the time like Sixth Sense (there’s no way Willis’ character would not realize he was dead after months). I also find the pacing and sound in his films feel inconsistent and confused. Glass struggled with all of the above. Granted, it’s not the worst movie of his I’ve seen; it was mildly entertaining for long stretches. But the overall product, and the ending especially, fit in with the rest of Shyamalan’s disappointing oeuvre.
The film starts off well enough. It does a great job at introducing the main characters, reminding the viewers of important expository information while showing how much time has progressed since Unbreakable (and how little time since Split). I liked the idea that David Dunn and his son (Spencer Treat Clark reprises the role) working as a team to take down bad guys. The initial dramatic confrontation between Dunn and Crumb’s Beast personality had promise. Yet almost as soon as it began, the police encircle the two men and bring them to Raven Hill Memorial Psychiatric Hospital.
The film begins to falter as soon as they arrive. Dr. Ellie Staple is portrayed by Sarah Paulson with a demeanor that is calm, aloof, and clearly has an evil tinge. She spends most of her time on screen attempting to convince the three men that they are not superheroes. Now, this could lead to an incredible twist when it’s revealed that she’s lying and they were super all along (which is what they seemed to be shooting for), if the audience hadn’t already seen two films filled with proof that she’s lying to them. But we do, so instead of being glued to my seat anticipating who is telling the truth, I was just getting bored waiting to find out why she hasn’t just killed them and why she would put three people she knew had super powers together, regardless of how much security she had (which, by the way, was a ludicrously low amount. One security guard overnight? Come on.)
Now, if you can really shut your mind off and not look ahead, the scenes within the Hospital are filmed well and the dialogue holds up too. The way that Mr. Glass is able to manipulate people is fascinatingly calculated. The cruel and calm method of killing the poor security guard was a great insight to his character as well. He again repeats what he believed in Unbreakable, that he and Dunn are created to be opposites, although it makes me wonder why then is Dunn not a complete moron to counteract Mr. Glass’s intellect.
Quick digression. This movie is supposed to be a kind of ode to comic book fans, yet in the comic book stores, the majority of the people there are total stereotypes; overweight bearded men who say odd things. Why didn’t Shyamalan make comic book fans look more accurate and less silly? And who thought the “Hello Kitty perv” line was a good one?
After some more hijinks, we get to the epic showdown between our superhero and supervillain. Only, it is not much of a fight as it is two men pushing, squeezing, and throwing wild punches. It is quite possibly the least-climactic final fight scene I have seen in a movie. When the police engage them, they do it not with guns but with giant riot shields, somehow thinking that bumping will subdue these strongmen, even though in the beginning of the movie they were prepared to use their entire arsenal. Even the cameras seem bored, more lackadaisically following the action than quick panning or cutting, or doing anything artistic.
As all three of our superhuman characters are taken out by this unnamed evil supergroup (which Dr. Staple was obviously part of), the final words are laughable. McEvoy switching personalities is a sight to behold, but it just makes the whole death scene seem silly. And I don’t even want to get started on Casey Cooke’s odd Stockholm Syndrome. Dunn was the one of the three who I was rooting for, and getting drowned in a pothole was quite the lame way to go. All I could think was how, in 19 years since he became a superhero, he didn’t come up with a better solution to the water-is-his-kryptonite issue aside from wearing a poncho.
In the epilogue, Shyamalan creates the potential for more sequels, even the creation of an MCU-style series. To have this much hubris, after making a movie that doesn’t have close to the heart, humor, or exciting action as any of the Marvel movies, is truly a superpower in its own right. I can only hope that, much like The Overseer, Mr. Glass, and The Horde, that this power doesn’t see the light of day again.