Glass: A Delicate Work
When I saw “Split” I wasn’t aware that M. Night Shyamalan intended “Unbreakable” to be a trilogy. If I was aware of that information, I would have called the twist that they were in the same universe immediately. The elements of the desperate attempt to prove the existence of superhumans in the real world, and the overcoming of doubters were too parallel to be coincidental.While one was a horror film and the other was a hero’s tale, they were basically two sides of the same coin. “Glass” was like watching that coin flip over and over again, making you wonder on what side will the coin land, on horror, or on triumph.
“Glass” picks up where its predecessors left off. David Dunn (Bruce Willis), superhuman dad, continues to vigilante all over Philidelphia. The Horde/Kevin Crumb (James McAvoy) continues his crusade to terrorize and murder young girls as tribute to his superhumanly monstrous persona “The Beast”. Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) aka Mr. Glass remains incarcerated from his actions in Unbreakable. A psychiatrist, Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) who specializes in people with delusions of grandeur consults on each of them to point out hard facts. Facts that their “superhuman” actions are nothing more than coincidences and delusions. If she convinces David and The Horde of this theory, it will unravel everything Mr. Glass has built with his inadvertent/completely intentional creation of David’s superhero life.
What I most admire about the story of “Glass” is how muted it is. It’s a superhero film when you boil it down, and yet there’s a distinct lack of explosions, chase scenes, CGI villainary, and wanton collateral damage. Don’t misinterpret that to think there aren’t high stakes and classic good v evil battles. A true comic book nerd (such as myself) can tell you that one of the most catching things about them is not the flashy fights or who is stronger than who, but the philosophical consequences. What would it do to an individual to be a superhero/supervillain? What would it do to society? This movie turns its attentions on that, and uses the classic heroics in a more controlled, but still healthy dose.
I would be remiss if I did not mention M. Night’s directing in this film. Now, a lot of times when people refer to their opinion on M. Night, they’re referring to him as a writer. He’s a brilliant writer, but an acquired taste, so there’s an understandable division on this front. His actual directing doesn’t get enough credit. You can tell that when he came up with this story, it looked like a comic book in his head, and it showed on the camera. The angles, colors, the use of silence and space were all masterfully used.
It is hard to determine, however, if it was M. Night’s directing ability that brought out the best in his actors, or if it was just the hard fact that this is one of the strongest lead-casts around. First of all, Bruce Willis has been playing the working-man hero since he had most of his hair and can do it better than I can make metaphors. Samuel L. Jackson, while most well known for his hardball characters and his m-f bombs has a tremendous range and played the subdued Elijah Price with incredible grace. Finally, James McAvoy needs to be bronzed and put in a museum somewhere because the man is a work of art. His portrayal of the dozens of different personalities in one body once again rivets the audience’s attention, never knowing what or who is going to come out next.
This is, after all, an MNS film. He likes to play with his audience. He does the twist better than Chubby Checker, and he doesn’t disappoint. He’s the human haunted house, because he needs to surprise his audience when they know full well going in, that he’s going to try to surprise them. Time after time he’s done it, and this is no exception. You can tell from the care he put in this movie that it was a passion project for him. One that is easy for the audience to get passionate about too.