M. Night Shyamalan did it again. After directing hits Unbreakable and Split, he unified the two films’ characters into a clever and twisting film that left the audience feeling both played and satisfied. This review will not contain spoilers for Glass, but will likely spoil Unbreakable and Split.
The film begins by reintroducing the audience to the key characters and showing how the passage of time has affected them since the events of the previous films. As it is set several years after Unbreakable but very recently after Split, David Dunn (Bruce Willis) is visibly older, as is his son who was a boy during the first film in the trilogy. The Horde (James McAvoy) has not visibly aged since Split, but has clearly become less patient in his habits.
Conflict sparks as Dunn seeks out The Horde and finds him. Their fight escalates into a secluded courtyard, and they are interrupted by a mysterious psychiatrist, Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson), backed by a small army of Philadelphia Riot Police. She takes them to a nearby mental institution where she states she wants to “treat” them for a disorder in which she claims to specialize.
As the narrative builds, a breakout ensues. The hero must stop the villains before they can cause large-scale damage to the city. Dunn and The Beast are pitted against each other once again. Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson) directs the action from the side as the twists and turns continue. No details surrounding the climax and resolution of the film can be disclosed without spoilers aside from the feeling of satisfaction in the final scene when the entire story is cleanly concluded, but with room for a sequel despite its finality.
One of the great things about this film is how cleverly the writing and the action play off of each other. Everything confusing fits into place and the foreshadowing strikes an effective balance. It even twists the nature of the themes it presents to make the audience wonder where it’s fundamentally going. There are surprises and shocks, but they all feel like they work in the context of the film. Nothing feels cheap or contrived, unlike the continuations of The Conjuring.
The way the film shifts focus between the characters shows their relationships develop with the others as well as developing within themselves. It shows a psychological basis for the psychiatrist’s treatment of them as well as the way she brings them together for the movie’s climax. The film ends with a bang to be sure, leaving the audience surprised and quite satisfied with the viewing experience. Metacritic rates Glass at 42, but I rate it 4 stars.
The loss of a star is because there were a few missed opportunities and fake-outs that were left hanging and ultimately made less sense for a narrative decision. It caused a faulty view of the scale of the film. Despite that, it is a great movie that is tasteful in its depiction of violent/gory acts, and I recommend it as the final movie in a great trilogy.