“Glass”: Unbreakable premise, Split ending

David Eckstein

It took nineteen years and a surprise sequel, but we finally have a conclusion to M. Night Shyamalan’s “Unbreakable”–the psychological thriller that gained a following over the years with many people appreciating it for its great cast and sophisticated take on comic book mythos.

Courtesy of Universal Pictures

This conclusion arrives with “Glass,” which once again features Bruce Willis starring as David Dunn, who’s now embraced his superhuman abilities and secretly fights criminals who would attack the innocent. He eventually comes across Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy), a man who has multiple personalities–one being the Beast, a monster who’s kidnapped and killed multiple people in his path. Their clash in the streets attracts the attention of psychiatrist Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson), who has police capture both men. They are taken to the same mental institution as David’s arch-nemesis, Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson)–a man with a fragile body but an extremely high intellect.  All three men then try to escape a facility that goes out of its way to convince them that superhumans are not real.

Does Shyamalan, the director, give us a satisfying conclusion? Overall I say no, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to enjoy in this film. The first half of the story starts strong by reintroducing us to this world and how these characters have changed in the past few years. This installment is grounded more in reality, rather than the big budget CGI fest that most comic book films are nowadays. That’s good. Not all movies need to be epics. It’s definitely more of a deconstruction of the genre and that’s where this series is strongest.

I was really excited as they built up the experienced David Dunn versus the powerful Beast. The action scenes when they showed the two fighting are really well done, which is a nice addition, as this series isn’t known for its action. At this point, I was really digging this film, but when they get captured and are brought to the mental facility, the film bogs down. Granted, we still get to see good performances by great actors. I loved seeing McAvoy display multiple personalities alongside Jackson, who is fun to watch once he becomes active in the plot. Willis does a good job with what he’s given, but he surprisingly gets sidelined for much of the movie.

Even though the idea of these characters in a mental institution is not what I expected in this sequel (at least before I saw the trailer), it’s still novel to explore the mental psyche of a superhuman in the manner done in this movie. One could argue the main characters stay at the facility way too long, but it is still interesting to see the logic as to why these people do what they do. It’s also interesting to watch the internal doubt as to whether a certain character has his powers. I will also say that this film has the best cinematography in the trilogy. Whether it be an upside down POV shot of the Beast climbing on the ceiling or seeing Elijah Price setting his plan into motion, this film succeeded on that front.

Though, sadly, all the good things in this film are immediately off set by an underwhelming climax. It’s the kind of ending that makes you wonder why they chose this route among multiple others that they could have chosen. Nineteen years in the making, and this is how it ends. We know how Shyamalan likes to add twists at the end of his films. Here, there are three, one in particular I found came out of nowhere and left me dumbfounded. What happens with the main characters without giving anything away? I’ll just say it didn’t feel earned and left me unsatisfied.

I think people will watch this and enjoy what it has to offer. It’s just that the last twenty minutes will have people scratching their heads with more questions than answers. I personally am glad I saw it, despite the weak payoff. If you’re interested in seeing the conclusion to this trilogy, you’ll get it. But you will have to endure an ending that will make you feel either unbreakable or split.

Rating: 3 out of 5 sails

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