“Glass” fails to follow “Unbreakable”

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“Glass” fails to follow “Unbreakable”

If you asked me to describe M. Night Shyamalan’s “Glass” to you, I would say it’s like he wrote the first draft of what could have been an amazing film, then he never bothered to write another draft. Fundamentally speaking, it’s not just bad writing that killed “Glass,” but ego as well.

Long before the days of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the superhero film renaissance, Shyamalan made the cult classic “Unbreakable,” a superhero drama that presented filmgoers with the most grounded take on the genre I have ever seen to this day. It worked so well because it did away with big fights and flashy powers to show us all what life would really be like for someone with superpowers. While I personally saw no need to continue the story of David Dunn, played by the legendary Bruce Willis, I was quite excited once I realized “Glass” would be taking characters from both “Unbreakable” and last year’s “Split” and pitting them against each other inside a mental institution.

While there is a lot to love about the film, especially the first 20 minutes, it all falls apart once David and Kevin Wendell Crumb, played by James Macavoy, are taken to the institution, where most of the film takes place. Not only is David sidelined for the rest of the movie in favor of Kevin and his 42 split personalities, but all of his growth and motivation from “Unbreakable” seem to be cast aside, all for the sake of adding drama and tension to an otherwise stupid situation when you stop to think about it.

I could tell that Shyamalan really wanted to explore mental health and in doing so, delve into the mindset of someone with superpowers, making them wonder if they even had the abilities they claim to possess. It’s a noble idea that is not explored often, but here it falls apart almost instantly.

Nineteen years of bending steel can’t just be explained away in two days by some crackpot therapist, especially when she witnessed some of these events. Head trauma doesn’t explain how someone fell out of a five-story window and survived without any broken bones, let alone a scratch. It’s pretentious, lazy writing that is only done to offer our characters some semblance of drama and tension in a film that could have honestly been a lot shorter if they just stopped to think about how dumb it all sounds.

As for the other characters, while Mcavoy’s performance is quite a highlight as well as the resolution to his character’s arc, Samuel L. Jackson’s Mr. Glass might just be one of the worst parts of the film. While “Unbreakable” already established Jackson’s character as a comic book fan and cleverly based some dialogue around that aspect, here the chracter is just obnoxious. In half his lines, he’s just constantly shouting needless exposition, pointing out comic book tropes as well as describing how the scene the characters are currently in parallels one in a comic.

While I get that not everyone reads comics and knows the tropes, the difference between how it’s handled here versus in “Unbreakable” is that Mr. Glass explained all of this to David because he was not a comic book guy. He never read about superheroes and had no idea that his life was spiraling in the same direction as one. So when Jackson did launch into an explanation, it felt justified in teaching David the do’s and don’ts of his morals and abilities.

However, by the time “Glass” rolls around, David has been a hero for almost 20 years now, a veteran that knows what he’s doing for the most part. So whenever Mr. Glass tries to compare fiction and reality, it’s just needless exposition that feels more like notes Shyamalan wrote to himself than actual dialogue, leading me to believe there weren’t a ton of drafts for this film. That, in itself, leads me into my final point about this film: Shyamalan himself.

The man has always had an ego, ever since he made masterpieces like “Unbreakable” and “The Sixth Sense.” But afterwards, that ego led him to making failure after failure, to the point where I’m surprised he hasn’t been blacklisted by Hollywood yet. Honestly, I think his ego is the only reason he made this rushed heap of pretentious garbage.

There are a ton of choices to back this claim up, ranging from his unbelievably unsubtle film cameo to the incredibly cheesy character monologues about good and evil and gods among men. When half the film’s dialogue is spoken through higher moral questions and ambiguous suggestions, that’s a telltale sign of a director who’s gotten too big for his britches.

As a side note, I don’t even think Shyamalan knows proper comic book lingo anymore, constantly referring to the story the characters are in as a “limited edition” instead of the actual term: a mini-series.

Overall, there is a lot about “Glass” that I hate, not just as a comic book fan but as an “Unbreakable” fan too. Its ideas were great and the cast was exceptional, but if this is the best you can do with 19 years of planning, then maybe you never should have bothered in the first place. Shyamalan’s “Glass” is a shattered and pathetic excuse for a sequel and my only hope is that people can learn that some works are better when they’re just left alone.

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