It has been a long time since M Night Shyamalan’s name being attached to a movie made it an immediately interesting proposition, but after the lo-fi success of Split and its genuinely surprising twist tie-in to 2000’s Unbreakable, there was some real excitement for Glass, the sequel to both of those films. This hype has proven hilariously unfounded, and Glass is not only a let down, but a batshit pile of unintentionally funny nonsense. It lands squarely in the Venom region of a film so inept that it becomes almost worth watching – undeniably entertaining at points – but is too often very boring to actually reach that target.
Uniting the world of Split and Unbreakable, Glass puts Split’s multiple-personality supervillain Kevin Wendell Crumb/The Beast (James McAvoy) on a collision course with Unbreakable’s indestructible hero David Dunn (Bruce Willis) and brittle-boned evil mastermind Mr Glass (Samuel L Jackson). Mr Glass wants to unleash The Beast on the world to prove that heroes exist, and David has to stop the pair of them before they commit a super-powered killing spree. Fundamentally, these two worlds were not meant to mix. McAvoy’s livewire, incredibly loud performance as Kevin’s 23 different identities seems a lot sillier in the more muted Unbreakable universe, as do the animalistic expressions of his powers.
Shyamalan struggles to marshal the fight scenes, which look stilted at best and outright amateurish at worst. Even though Glass follows in Split’s footsteps as a Blumhouse production, the expansion of scope robs it of any real horror potential. Though there are some very entertaining scenes – including an amazingly conspicuous extended Shyamalan cameo – none of them work on the level they’re meant to, and the writing is thuddingly on the nose and dim throughout. A series of increasingly manic and pointless twists in the finale only serve to highlight how empty the story is.
There’s also the problem of the entire middle act being dismally dull. Essentially an extended therapy session in which Dr Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) – a psychiatrist who specialises in delusions of grandeur – tries to convince our lead trio that they’re not super, but merely disturbed, it seems to go on and on for about four weeks. Every individual scene is way too long, and the more seriously Glass tries to take itself and its story, the more idiotic it looks. As an attempt to deconstruct the comic book movie, it falls way short of the real article, and, as a thriller, it only really engages when it’s embarrassing itself.