'Glass' (2019) Movie Review
Since the very second that the ending credits rolled on Glass, I have been wrestling with how I felt about it. I went through a whole series of emotions in reaction to everything that was said and done by the finale. Originally I had planned to immediately review Glass right after my screening last night, but after the film had concluded and on my way home, there was something that kept rattling in my brain about certain choices that were made. Ultimately, I decided to wait before reviewing the movie; at least to sleep on it for a night so I don’t say something that I may feel differently later on. I’m glad I did this because I feel a little bit more confident in my opinions on the film, for better or worse. So in my contemplation on Glass and thinking about how I wanted to approach critiquing the film, I have chosen to basically break my review into two parts; the first part will be how I felt about Glass during the film and my initial thoughts coming out, the second part will be how I feel now.
Set only a few weeks after the events of Split, Kevin Wendell Crumb (a.k.a. The Hoard), a man suffering from a severe case of multiple split personality disorder containing as many as twenty-four personalities, is at it again with kidnapping young teen girls that he views as impure and must be punished by death. David Dunn, now the owner of a security supply store uses his business to track down criminals and bring them to justice, is now on the hunt for Crumb. But things go south when they go toe to toe, resulting in both of them being incarcerated inside of a mental facility along with Elijah Price. The man David put away nearly twenty years ago for his terrorist acts that caused hundreds of deaths. Together they are studied and treated by Dr. Ellie Staple in order to cure them of their possible delusions of their seemingly beyond human abilities. From there they must figure out if they’re all crazy or if they are who they believe themselves to be, superheroes.
This is clearly not an easy film to review, so I want to give you a bit of my mental/emotional process that is the causation of Glass:
Before Glass – I was REALLY excited; Unbreakable is my absolute favorite M. Night Shyamalan film and I really loved Split, so to see this world brought back to life and merged together with possibilities that seemed limitless as to where it could go. I couldn’t wait!
First Act – The first twenty to thirty minutes or so I was digging the hell out of! Seeing Bruce Willis back as David Dunn was pretty great to get a glimpse of where he’s at in his life now with his son who is also played by the original actor from Unbreakable, Spencer Treat Clark. And there was some intense and fun sequences with James McAvoy as ‘the Hoard’. It was a strong opening and I was curious about where it was going.
Second Act – The pacing slows down quite a bit, but overall I was fine with that direction since it resembles the slow burn dramatic tone of Unbreakable while splicing in horror and comedic moments reminiscent of Split. It felt like a decent blend of the two films. Also Samuel L. Jackson is introduced into the film as the titular Mr. Glass/Elijah Price. Which he doesn’t have a whole lot of material to work with since he is in a catatonic state for the entire second act, but he does somehow hold an intimidating presence as it feels that there is a build-up with his character that held me in anticipation. Willis is seemingly sidelined through a lot of this act, only appearing occasionally and not given a whole lot to do. However, he is still good and is certainly trying while a lot of the focus is given to James McAvoy in this middle section and he is obviously fantastic as he switches between approximately twenty different personalities, supplying some really cool and interesting character moments. The dialog also gets to be a little much as it is mainly focusing on parallels with comic book lore, which at first I was fine with but as the film went on it got to be slightly obnoxious. Not enough to ever annoy me, but it was pushing it somewhat. Overall, a solid enough second act with enough entertainment value to keep me thoroughly enjoying the experience.
Third Act (Prior to the last ten minutes) – The intensity is ramping up as the build-up appears to be paying off with the interactions between the three leads, or at least seem to be leading into that direction. The action sequences are well done, cool to watch, realistically executed and suspenseful. Jackson is finally getting his time to shine in the film and it is fairly satisfying to see relishing in his villainous role. Willis is given some good moments in the fight sequences. There’s even one twist that I didn’t see coming and I thought worked pretty well with the story. I was relatively thrilled and excited to see exactly where it was all going to end.
The Last Ten Minutes – I will do my best to dance around spoilers at this point, but they do something with the three leads that kind of rubbed me the wrong way. I won’t say what, but it was a very bold and ballsy choice to make. As I was watching it, I was thrown off and actually a bit uncertain as to how I should feel about what was happening but I stuck with it. Even though my enjoyment was rapidly declining. I allowed the final minutes to proceed to play out, but it was not recovering with several different twists happening in only a span of ten minutes. Then it ended, leaving me perplexed about what I just saw.
After the Entire Credits Rolled – I sat there for a moment to collect myself, but overall I came to the conclusion that I liked the film. I was disappointed with the ending, but I wasn’t going to let that sully the rest of my experience which was overall enjoyable. I was sure that this was a good movie with a few problems and a lackluster ending.
Two Hours Later – I can’t get Glass out of my mind, I liked most of the movie but that ending was bothering me and I couldn’t figure out why it was irking me so much. It was literally only ten minutes out of an over two hour movie that I found to be mostly a good time in the theater. Those few minutes shouldn’t hold so much weight on the rest of the film. Granted, it was a majorly impactful decision to do what the ending did, but should that ruin the rest of the film’s quality, right?
One Hour Later – You know what, I respect the decision M. Night Shyamalan made to close off his superhero/comic book trilogy. It was a bold move that I didn’t see coming and no one would ever make with something that was nineteen years in the making.
Five Minutes Later – I basically turn into Tommy Wiseau from The Room.. THIS IS A BETRAYAL! YOU BETRAYED ME… I AM FED UP WITH THIS WORLD!!!
How I Feel Now
The last ten minutes sabotages what could have been a fantastic third entry in this series. Honestly, I can’t go on without spoiling what they do to break Glass so if you want to see this movie without anything being spoiled to you then I suggest you stop reading my review right now. I’m serious, I am about to spoil the ending of Glass right here and right now. So you better stop reading. Stop it. I mean it… did you stop? No? You’re still going, okay. In that case…
The final ten minutes kills off all three of the lead characters. All three without hesitation are murdered on screen and that honestly was a terrible decision to make. This world with these three interesting and complex characters had so many possibilities eluded to and was utterly destroyed in practically a single blow. There was a second twist that turned out that the mental hospital was being run by a secret organization that has worked for hundreds of years to keep superpowered people a secret and convince the individuals with abilities that they are simply sick in the head. And so when the third act hits and the three are out in the open clearly showing that they are basically comic book characters come to life, the secret organization kills all three of them. Rather unceremoniously to be frank, especially with the David Dunn character being executed by forced drowning. As it was happening I had my fingers crossed that something else was going to happen to turn things around because the film keeps going for another ten minutes or so after the three are killed off. So I was honestly hoping for little specs of dirt to start floating from David Dunn’s coffin or something like the end of Batman V Superman, anything at all. But it never happened. There was another twist about Elijah’s true plan that thwarts the evil organization and it cuts to credits.
I kept running it through my head as to why I was so bothered by this move that Shyamalan made to kill these three off. Granted, yeah, I liked watching them as they all have plenty of interesting qualities about their character so it sucks to see them die on that level. But there was something more to it. Something that I wasn’t quite understanding, then I figured it out. Because none of them actually get their due. The end of Split reveals that it was a secret sequel to the movie Unbreakable, with that reveal it made promises to something grand. Something truly special was on its way with the combining of those two worlds. Glass was supposed to be the culmination of something extraordinary, it was the return of the world and characters of Unbreakable with so many possibilities at their disposal. Glass even presents ideas of where the story could have gone after this installment or even an interesting way that this specific story could have ended that would have been mind blowing, but Shyamalan killed it. He literally killed all of those ideas, all of those opportunities that would have been just as bold but not as film breaking as what Shyamalan decided to do with the ending of Glass. And it breaks my hearts and I realized that I was practically in mourning, ridiculously going through all the stages of grief; denial, sadness, anger, compromise, acceptance, etc. I was mourning the opportunities that could have been yet were taken away too soon.
There were things with David and his wife that were introduced that never had any payoff by the end of the story. The concept of Dunn working with his son is clever and interesting, but doesn’t get nearly enough time to be fleshed out. Mr. Glass is supposed to have been the titular character yet he gets very little time to shine, limited to only the last thirty minutes or so and even then I wish could have included way more between him and David, but that was completely squandered. Kevin and his relationship with the sole survivor of his crimes from Split are interesting and have a good setup to what could have been a great continuation, but it is not allowed to continue since he dies. No more. There is no more of anything for these three great characters. David Dunn and Elijah Price/Mr. Glass were brought back to life after nearly twenty years only to be killed off after one movie like they were nothing. Like this wasn’t a major deal to anyone who loved Unbreakable and got excited about the fact that M. Night was actually doing something really interesting with this surprise franchise. Why? Why would you do that? Why would you bring these three characters back, elude to so many story and world building possibilities with all of them to just cut it off before it can get going? Why?! I don’t understand why you would sabotage your own series, your own characters, your own creations like this. This seriously feels like a betrayal, not only to the fans like myself but simply to these characters that you clearly put so much time and effort into creating and setting up interesting threads for them to follow only so you could kill them and leave so much to be desired. Why did you do this, man? Why? I am seriously hurt by this. It feels less and less like a bold move and more like a naïve and cruel choice made out of pride. There was no real need to do this. If the things that were promised were properly delivered upon then that would be one thing, but the film deliberately starts plot threads and character development that are all completely dropped because… well, they died. The final shot suggests that there may be more inside the actual world without the three leads, but after this I don’t think I want any part of it.
I seriously do feel betrayed. This feels like if I had a long lost dog and after many years all of the sudden my best friend found the dog only to run it over in front of my very eyes. That is what I am feeling right now. Which is a shame because literally I could easily recommend the majority of the film as there are great ideas and scenes, the actors all do a fine job, the story does have a good build-up and even the climax is relatively satisfying. Then as soon as the climax is over the movie shoots itself in the head and I am left with nothing. And I’m pissed off about it. This is an ending that could have been avoided. If there was any other ending I could have still recommended Glass without blinking. Buggs Bunny could have shot out of Bruce Willis’s ass and dry humped James McAvoy while Sam Jackson watched and I still would have recommended Glass. Hell, I would have put it on my Best of the Year list in the number one spot for being that unpredictably insane. But instead, M. Night Shyamalan decided that it was better to go against the grain than to deliver on his promises. In a sense I can respect that, he is a filmmaker that has always done what he wanted without anyone forcing him to do otherwise. But this was a bad choice to make. This was a mistake and I truly hope that he realizes that. I would honestly be open to the idea that if he reshot the ending for a home video release to retcon their deaths, then I could forgive this. But that is unrealistic for me to even hope for.
So with all of that I say, I am mad at Glass. I don’t hate Glass, but I am mad at it. I’m mad that the potential presented two years ago with Split was killed off so abruptly before it could even start to bloom. I’m mad that despite that M. Night Shyamalan could have chosen literally any other way to end his film, he chose to kill it along with everything promised. What was a stylish and intriguing, slow burning drama turned into a colossal disappointment because of its poor ending. It is a shame and I hate saying it, but I am severely let down. In time, my wounds will heal but it could have been avoided. You didn’t have to hurt me, Shyamalan! In all seriousness, if you are as big of a fan as I am of Unbreakable and Split then I think that you will like most of the movie, but will be sorely hurt by the ending for all the wrong reasons. If you aren’t a fan and have no prior knowledge to the previous films then this will probably be just fine for you. You probably won’t have the complaints that I have with the film and I think that if you enjoy slow paced psychological drama then this should be a decent enough sit for you. For me, I do want to see the film again to hopefully better assess it as a whole. I will maintain that if I ignore the ending then I do like Glass overall. But that ending sullied a lot of my enjoyment. So I choose to live in denial. That’s how that’s going to work; I am going to pretend like the last ten minutes never happened, insert my own ending from my imagination and say that this is the greatest trilogy ever made. Don’t burst my bubble and break the illusion, I need this.
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© 2019 John Plocar