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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Jan 26, 2019

Glass Movie Review: A Mishmash Of Half-Baked Ideas With Long Boring Talky Sequences

WE’RE TOLD the theatre box office has been performing dismally since the Metro Manila Filmfest ended. Local films like “Boy Tokwa”, “Sakaling Maging Tayo” and “Alpha: The Right to Kill” came and went without moviegoers even noticing them. But even Holllywood releases are not lucky. Only “Bumblebee” did fairly well. Others like “Instant Family” with Mark Wahlberg, “Replicas” with Keanu Reeves, “The Upside” with Kevin Hart, “Mary Poppins Returns” with Emily Blunt and the horror flick “Possession of Hannah Grace” failed to attract audiences. Even the current number one movie in the U.S., “Glass”, is said not to be doing as well as expected locally.

“Glass” is from M. Night Shyamalan, well known for his twist endings, starting with “The Sixth Sense” in 1999 which even got several Oscar nominations. But his succeeding works were disappointments, like “The Happening”, “The Vilage”, “Signs”, “After Earth”, “Last Airbender”. In 2016, he was able to return successfully with the big hit, “Split”, starring James MacAvoy as Kevin Wendell Crumb, a kidnapper with 23 other split personalities.

The movie ended with the surprise appearance of Bruce Willis as David Dunn, the only survivor in a massive train crash which proved that he cannot be harmed in Shyamalan’s 2000 movie, “Unbreakable”, which also introduced the character Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), who’s known as Mr. Glass as he’s the opposite of David Dunn since his bones are so brittle they break easily. Now comes “Glass” and the three films have suddenly become a trilogy.

Sadly, Shyamalan has failed to build a persuasive story around the three characters, biting off more than he could chew. He even tried to delve on themes about the variations between reality and fantasy in doing a superhero movie but it didn’t go anywhere. The whole thing comes across as mishmash of half-baked ideas with meta references that do not really jell into a satisfying whole. “Glass” is needlessly lengthy, making it tedious viewing with long talky sequences that just lack energy and help put you to sleep.

David has learned to accept his gifts and becomes a vigilante who, along with his son Joseph (Spencer Clark), hunt down criminals. With the help of his ESP (extra sensory perception), David rescues four cheerleaders who Kevin as his Beast persona has kidnapped in Philadelphia. He fights Kevin in a showdown in the streets, but they are both arrested and taken to a maximum security mental hospital where, it turns out, Elijah is also being held. But even the interplay between the three major characters doesn’t turn out into anything really exciting.

The head of the asylum, Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson), a specialist in superhero delusions, is given three days to convince David, Kevin and Elijah that they don’t really have super powers but are just normal people. Actually, this Dr. Staple character is plain boring as she delivers her sleep-inducing monologues about the demarcation line that divides what is comic book and what is real. Aside from Joseph, the son of David, there are two other characters: Elijah’s mother (Charlayne Woodard) and Casey (Anya Taylor Joy), one of the kidnap victims of Kevin who was able to escape by appealing to his real persona as Kevin.

Even the action sequences are not very well staged and lacks the energy of similar movies. Since this is a Shyamalan movie, there are also twists but nothing really as earth shaking as “I see dead people”. It turns out Elijah or Glass has his own motives to manipulate David and Kevin. It is revealed that it’s Elijah who engineered the train crash in “Unbreakable” that caused the death of Kevin’s father, resulting into his abusive mother’s tormenting him which in turn led to the creation of Kevin’s multi-personalities. The angry Beast then breaks the backbone of Glass and throws David into a tank of water, the equivalent of Superman’s kryptonite or weakness for David.

And Dr. Staple herself turns out to be a part of a secret society that tries to keep the existence of supermen a secret, like the illuminati group in “Da Vinci Code”. She erases all the security footage that recorded her evil acts and declares her mission a success, but she doesn’t know that Glass has hacked the cameras and has been live streaming it. Elijah’s mom, Joseph and Casey then get copies of the recorded footage and release it to public to prove that superhumans do exist among us.

When it comes to acting, MacAvoy, even if he’s too buff to be believable in the role of a very disturbed psycho, has the natural advantage of playing a complex role with his multiple personalities. Just like in “Split”, he once again comes up with a gleeful over-the-top interpretation of them. Take note that he is better when he is interacting with himself and not his two co-stars, especially now that the usually flamboyant Samuel Jackson chooses to be more restrained and subdued as Glass, since he’s just confined in a wheelchair to look like a catatonic.

Bruce Willis is convincing as the tired and weary David, but Hugh Jackman has done it better in “Logan”. As for Shyamalan, looks like he has ran out of good ideas as filmmaker. But “Glass” is a big hit in the States, so for sure, he’ll get more investors for his next project.