Two years ago, the end of Split created a surprise. We learned that M. Night Shyamalan’s film was linked to another of his works released 16 years earlier: Unbreakable. The director’s first “sequel”, he didn’t stop there and announcing the big news, it was actually a trilogy that would end with Glass. Three associated feature films, yet very different in content and form.
M. Night Shyamalan may have had its ups and downs in his filmography, one thing remains: his ability as a storyteller. Unbreakable was revisiting the superhero movie long before the Marvel and Company era while questioning our nature. Split was an agonizing camera questioning the capacities of our psyche. It was almost obvious that Glass would have it both ways by merging these universes.
From there, the most interesting part of the footage: to cast doubt on our ability to make the unreal real and vice versa. If we strongly believe that we are a superhero, can we become one? By bringing together the unbreakable David Dunn (Bruce Willis), the glass man Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) and The Beast Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy) in one place, the director touches consciousness and its limits .
Are we really what we think we are or have we deluded ourselves to escape reality? From this perspective, Glass is the perfect conclusion to a trilogy that makes sense taken end to end.
Glass, an anti-spectacular work
Beyond its psychological dimension, Glass also offers a reinterpretation of a now widespread genre. In the same way as Unbreakable, with whom it shares much more in common than with Split (our review here ), the footage maintains its point in our reality while paying homage to this fantastic part specific to the superheroic style. So that the story remains believable when supernatural events occur. Normal or superhuman, the protagonists are above all men looking for a place in this world.
We can nevertheless regret that the large number of characters prevent them from fully existing as they deserve, especially with regard to supporting roles. There remains the charm of finding the entire cast of the two previous films (until the return of a now adult Spencer Treat Clark).
And then there is this staging of Shyamalan, as much anti-spectacular as it is ambitious. Avoiding the use of digital effects as much as possible – especially with the use of cut scenes for flashbacks – the director is full of ideas for sticking the lens on his characters even during action scenes. The angle of the camera is never where it is expected, skilfully playing off-screen and pleasantly shaking up our habits at this level.
Each place, each tone, each point of view is designed to serve the characters and the general purpose. In this idea, Glass mixes the graphic style of Unbreakable and Split while having its own aesthetic which is sometimes warm, sometimes cold, sometimes anxiety-provoking. Ambient differences which thus contribute to blurring the lines as to the finality of the speech via a visually and narratively protean story.
The superhero trap
All these good intentions should satisfy more than one even if, on our side, it is impossible to be fully convinced. In his desire to surprise by telling a tale of exceptional beings across three films, M. Night Shyamalan was trapped by what he wanted to avoid with Unbreakable: the superhero. Once the end of Split officially confirmed the existence of Supermen in a broader spectrum than the intimate clash between David Dunn and Elijah Price, the director could no longer put them under the rug. How can we succeed in making us doubt when the facts have been established?
At this point, the psychological manipulation that Shyamalan embarks on has no chance of treading on a conscious spectator of a much different reality. Especially since the guy takes too long to confuse the tracks via an introduction which reinforces our certainty. Admittedly, the subject of the film is interesting, but its effect is less.
Because, overtaken by his ambition, Glass struggles to meet all expectations and where there are qualities, we find faults elsewhere. As a whole, the scenario is easily appreciated, but in detail, there are several inconsistencies, anti-natural reactions and a meta discourse that lacks subtlety. And if the final twist has the merit of bringing a hint of consistency, it is unfortunately expected and above all, already seen. We have the feeling of seeing a hasty M. Night Shyamalan, falling back into things we thought were behind him. Despite everything, Glass provokes and does not leave you indifferent, this is the main thing, no matter if you see the glass half full or half empty.