Glass (2019 film)
UK release poster
|Directed by||M. Night Shyamalan|
|Written by||M. Night Shyamalan|
|Music by||West Dylan Thordson|
|Box office||$199 million|
Glass is a 2019 American superhero thriller film written, produced, and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. The film is a sequel to Shyamalan’s previous films Unbreakable (2000) and Split (2016), serving as the final installment in the Unbreakable trilogy. Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Spencer Treat Clark, and Charlayne Woodard reprise their Unbreakable roles, while James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy return as their Splitcharacters, with Sarah Paulson, Adam David Thompson, and Luke Kirby joining the cast. In the film, David Dunn becomes locked in a mental hospital alongside his archenemy Mr. Glass, as well as the multi-personality “The Horde,” and must contend with a psychiatrist who is out to prove the trio do not actually possess super-human abilities.
While there was interest in creating a sequel to Unbreakable following its release, Touchstone Pictures opted not to finance one at that time despite the film’s solid box office performance. Shyamalan set out to write Split using a character he had written for Unbreakable but pulled from its script due to balance issues. Shyamalan realized the opportunity he had to create a trilogy of works, and used the ending of Split to establish the film as within the Unbreakable narrative. This included securing the rights to use Willis’s Unbreakable character from Walt Disney Studios, with the promise of including Disney within the production and distribution of this third film alongside Universal Pictures. Split was a financial and critical success, and by April 2017, Shyamalan announced that he had started the production process for Glass.
The film was released on January 18, 2019, by Universal Pictures in the United States and by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, under the Buena Vista International label, in international territories. It has grossed over $199 million worldwide, against a $20 million production budget. It received mixed reviews from critics, with some finding it underwhelming and lamenting the climax, although the performances of McAvoy, Willis and Jackson, as well as the direction, musical score, and entertainment value of the first half of the film were praised.
Plot **SPOILER ALERT**
Three weeks after Kevin Wendell Crumb earns the nickname “The Horde”,[N 1] vigilante David Dunn and his now-grown son Joseph, who have been working together to take down criminals, set out to save four cheerleaders Crumb has abducted. David comes across Kevin, whose alter, “Hedwig,” is in control, and discerns the cheerleaders’ location using his extrasensory perception. After freeing the cheerleaders, David confronts Kevin’s superhuman alter, “the Beast”, only for both of them to be arrested when the ensuing fight spills out into the streets.
David and Kevin are sent to a mental institution where Elijah Price, David’s sworn enemy, known as “Mr. Glass”, is being held. Dr. Ellie Staple, the head doctor of the mental institution, works with patients who claim to have special powers. Staple reveals that she has been given three days to persuade David, Kevin, and Elijah that they are “normal” people who simply believe they have super powers. Staple also knows that David’s alleged weakness is water and has a machine that forces the Horde to switch identities, effectively disarming the Beast.
Joseph, Mrs. Price, and Casey Cooke (who survived an attack from the Beast) all visit at separate times to attempt to aid their associates, but fail. As part of her final evaluation, Staple puts the three patients in one room begins to chip away at David and the Horde’s belief in their abilities being supernatural. Though Elijah has been heavily sedated throughout his stay, Staple reveals that his own MRI results show irregularities in the frontal lobe of his brain, which she believes could explain his obsession with proving the existence of super-powered humans.
The evaluation attracts Elijah, who has been surreptitiously swapping out his medication with aspirin and faking his sedated state, to the Beast. That night, Elijah breaks into the Horde’s cell to prepare them for the Beast’s awakening, but is captured and has laser surgery performed on his brain. However, it’s revealed that Elijah had anticipated this and had previously sabotaged the surgical laser, causing it to have no effect on him; he escapes captivity by killing an orderly and sets off to awaken the Beast. Elijah convinces the Beast to battle David during the public unveiling of the city’s new highest tower to revive the Horde’s faith and reveal the existence of superhumans to the world, before turning his attention to David and forcing him to accept the truth of his superhuman abilities to escape, lest Elijah destroy the tower in place of the showdown. David, Kevin and Elijah are all able to escape from the hospital. David and the Beast face off again outside of the hospital and are evenly matched until Staple intervenes. Staple orders four armed men to subdue each of the superhumans, but David and the Beast fend them off.
Elijah tells the Beast that water is David’s weakness, but Joseph intervenes and reveals to the Beast that Elijah orchestrated the train crash that killed Kevin’s father, the same train crash that Elijah caused to find David. After Kevin’s father died, his abusive mother began torturing him, thus leading to the creation of The Beast. The Beast thanks Elijah for creating him, but because his purpose is to protect Kevin, the Beast mortally wounds Elijah and then throws David into a water tank. David survives but is apparently weakened by the fight. The Beast retreats and promises to finish him off at the tower. However, Casey confronts the Beast before he can escape and summons the real Kevin to take control by speaking his full name. Without the Beast’s superhuman strength and durability to protect him, Kevin is fatally shot by one of Staple’s men and dies in Casey’s arms.
Staple’s men then overpower the weakened David and drown him in a flooded pothole. Staple lets David touch her as he dies, granting him a vision of her being part of a secret society trying to keep the existence of superhumans a secret. Staple tells him that if she had convinced him that he was normal, she would have left him alone, but that The Beast ruined that. As Elijah finally dies of his wounds, Staple reveals to him that a human Illuminati-like group have been the masterminds of the obstruction of both heroes and villains alike for over 10,000 years. With Elijah, Kevin and David dead, Staple deletes the security footage and reports her mission as a success.
Unbeknownst to Staple, the cameras around the mental institution had previously been hacked by Elijah and had been live-streaming to a private network. Shortly thereafter, Mrs. Price, Joseph and Casey all receive a copy of the footage and choose to release it to the public via the Internet, bringing the existence of superhumans to the awareness of the public to avenge the death of the three extraordinary people.
- James McAvoy as Kevin Wendell Crumb / The Horde: A former Philadelphia Zoo employee with 23 different personalities whose body chemistry changes with each personality, resulting in a 24th personality known as “The Beast.”, a savage superhuman cannibal whose abilities include superhuman strength, speed, durability, and agility. Kevin’s personalities also include Jade (a teenage girl), Orwell (a historian), Barry (an effeminate man), Patricia (a proper British woman), Hedwig (a nine-year-old boy), Ann and Mary Reynolds (Irish twin girls), Dennis (a perverted man suffering from OCD), Norma (a Southern woman), Luke (a Southern man who spoils movies), and Mr. Pritchard (a professor of Japanese cinema).
- Bruce Willis as David Dunn / The Overseer: An indestructible security guard with superhuman strength and stamina, as well as an extrasensory ability to see the crimes people have committed by touching them. In the film, Dunn goes by a new alias, “The Overseer”.
- Samuel L. Jackson as Elijah Price / Mr. Glass: A superhumanly intelligent mass murderer and comic book theorist with Type I osteogenesis imperfecta, who was institutionalized after Dunn discovered his crimes.
- Sarah Paulson as Dr. Ellie Staple: A psychiatrist specializing in delusions of grandeur who treats patients convinced they are superhuman beings.
- Anya Taylor-Joy as Casey Cooke: A teenage girl with a history of abuse who was kidnapped by one of Kevin’s personalities as a potential sacrifice to “The Beast” but managed to survive.
- Spencer Treat Clark as Joseph Dunn: David’s son who has believed in his father’s abilities since he was a child and sees him as a real-life superhero.
- Charlayne Woodard as Mrs. Price: Elijah’s mother, who took great care of her son, and always told him he was special no matter what others said.
- Adam David Thompson as Daryl, an employee at the psych ward.
- Luke Kirby as Pierce, one of Mr. Glass’s caretakers at the facility.
M. Night Shyamalan reprises his cameo role of Jai, the security guard from Dr. Fletcher’s apartment building in Split, who indicates to David Dunn that he was also the same man he confronted about selling drugs at the university stadium in Unbreakable.
James McAvoy continues his brilliant portrayal of the Horde. The distinct shifts in personality are remarkable. I saw this movie on a Friday and am reviewing it on Monday for a reason. The meat of this story is that without bad guys, we wouldn’t need good guys. Or maybe it is even deeper. This isn’t the old fashioned good verses evil superhuman ability tale, and it is a rather dark, but refreshing take on the superhero genre.
The tie back to Unbreakable is such that I am going to have to watch it today. Maybe I will review it, too. I reviewed Split, here, when it came out.
I am seeing ALITA, in IMAX 3D on Feb. 14th. That review will be up on the 15th.
As for Glass, I give it 4 stars and recommend it as a refreshing take on the traditional comic book hero flick. -MR