By MONTE YAZZIE
It doesn’t take long in M. Night Shyamalan’s new film “Glass” for the term comic book to morph from the physical literary pages, to a description for characters and finally into a multifaceted medical diagnosis. Exploring the term comic book in today’s pop culture and cinematic world that is inundated with comic book movies almost every other month.
The exploration of the mythos and responsibility involved in the creation of a person with super human abilities was a fresh topic when Shyamalan handled it in 2000 with “Unbreakable.” Seventeen years later, with numerous comic book cinematic universes in tow, and “Glass” feels like a film that doesn’t understand the world it’s trying to exist in.
David Dunn (Bruce Willis) is the lone survivor of a train crash 17 years ago that discovers his supernatural ability to sense the evil deeds of people he touches, while also possessing tremendous strength that helps him bring justice to bad people.
David, now a vigilante known as the Overseer, is hunting a man named, Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy), who suffers from multiple personality disorder, one of which is a personality known as The Beast.
The two come face-to-face but are abruptly captured by a psychiatrist (Sarah Paulson) and sent to a mental hospital where an old nemesis (Samuel L. Jackson) has been patiently waiting for David.
“Split,” Mr. Shyamalan’s horror-thriller from 2016, which introduced the multiple personality villain Kevin Wendell Crumb, surprised audiences with a post-credit scene where the character David Dunn was reintroduced sitting in a coffee shop watching the news of Crumb’s carnage.
It was a peculiar scene for an otherwise enjoyable excursion for the director who had seen an uneven succession of films after an impressive slate of movies in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
“Glass” starts with a wealth of interesting ideas, exploring the line that separates heroes and villains, and the responsibility and madness associated with each. There is also an intriguing side note concerning the victims associated with these super human people that provides a different approach not typically found in the mainstream comic book film.
We get to see how David has progressed the heroics with his son Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark) into a family business, and a few other characters from the other associated films. And for the first half hour of the film Mr. Shyamalan does a nice job of tying everything together.
Unfortunately, things take a turn and the momentum and intrigue of these characters is squandered by over explanation and unnecessary narrative twists.
It leads to a finale that completely undermines everything developed early in the story, but also needlessly manipulates comic book culture trying to justify why these characters function the way they do. It’s such a letdown considering the potential of the actors and the foundation laid for the stories before this film.
“Glass” has so many ideas, some of them thought-provoking and captivating, others lofty and ludicrous. Still, with more time and attention to the script those lofty ideas could have become ludicrously appealing in the same way that some Marvel and DC Comics films have succeeded.
Instead we have a film that completely misses the heart of why comic book characters have come as far as they have.
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: Bruce Willis, James McAvoy, Sarah Paulson, Anya Taylor-Joy, Spencer Treat Clark, Charlayne Woodard, and Samuel L. Jackson
2.00 out of 5.00