Glass: Shattered with More Questions than Answers
The following is a review with some spoilers (no end spoilers)… proceed with caution!
In the third installment of M. Night Shyamalan’s Superhero series, we’re treated to what should be the resolution of three different storylines. However, I feel like I’m left with even more questions than I had when I finished watching Unbreakable and Split. Part of me feels like this is just how I react to his movies now. Questions. Like: Why did you make The Happening?
In the beginning of the movie, we are treated to Patricia (one of Kevin Wendell Crumb’s 23 personalities, all of whom are played by James McAvoy) offering peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to four cheerleaders unceremoniously chained to a factory work table. Under normal circumstances I might find Patricia to be a quite polite, almost accommodating. These are obviously not normal circumstances. Of all of the personalities - including creepy Dennis - Patricia is my least favorite. But - YAY! - here’s Hedwig, the resident and eternal 9 year old. Roller skating around their captives, yammering on about things that 9 year olds find exciting. I love this kid. But I kinda wanna trip him, et cetera.
James McAvoy’s performance as a person burdened with the diagnosis of DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) since childhood is absolutely fascinating and heartbreaking, albeit very much dramatized. After a while, the cycling through each personality in a rapid-fire manner did seem rather showy and unnecessary. But, suspension of disbelief is the name of the game here. Trust me. Ain’t nothing in this movie resembling real life, not even the hospital.
While everything is moving pretty quickly, we are treated to some updates on old characters. For instance, David Dunn (Bruce Willis) and his son Joseph (same actor, even - Spencer Treat Clark) are running a security equipment shop together. They’re also tracking The Horde via satellite surveillance in the back room. Seems like a legit venture, even if it doesn’t sound like either of them are all that interested in the business. David is preoccupied with “walks” and his son seems almost annoyingly concerned by this, as well as searching for the Horde and selling cameras to building maintenance guys.
Elijah Price aka Mr. Glass (aka motherfucking Samuel L. Jackson) is a patient in the high security ward of a hospital for the criminally insane. Presumably for the murder of hundreds of people while operating his little comic book shop, but that’s just a guess. I have zero love for MG. Not a single sympathetic bone in my body for that character. How does a boy who is so adored by his mother, given everything in her power to have a happy childhood, grow up to be such an awful person? Given that, I was still excited to see the man - as he really is the central focus of the entire storyline. Also, it’s Samuel L. Jackson.
When David finally meets up with The Beast, it ends in broken glass, surprised Beast faces, spotlights and what looks like SWAT. For a moment I thought I was watching Jason Goes To Hell due to the high powered LED flash that stops everything (what was that, a billion candles?). Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) has apparently known where Kevin was hiding out, and she seems to have expected to see Poncho Man as well. This doesn’t make sense to me, as a viewer. If she knew enough about their whereabouts, why is Poncho Man rescuing those kids? The movie would have been entirely different, and probably 30 minutes long. I know, I know. Suspend the disbelief. What is a Shyamalan movie, without a few plot holes? And I think he missed a great thing by calling him The Overseer, and not Poncho Man.
After their capture and transport, they are each held in rooms that are respectively equipped with ways to subdue them should they become aggressive. Dunn’s room has several nozzles equipped to hose him down (“It puts the lotion on its skin...”). Crumb is in a room with the LED lights we first see outside of the warehouse positioned in front of the entrance, if he gets too close or becomes too agitated - BLAM. Glass is under constant video surveillance. They are kept separate, none of them really knowing the others are there at first. Each man is being treated for some unmentioned psychosis that results in them believing they are super human.
Which brings me to this non-spoiler question (check me, it’s in the previews!): Why is David Dunn chained to the floor when he didn’t kill anyone? He beats up would-be murderers, sure. He threw around a couple of punks who were filming themselves “Superman” punching completely unaware victims. He’s saved people that didn’t even know they needed saving. Slippery slope, perhaps (a discussion for another time). He still has a history of preventing crime and avenging victims, and I don’t remember him killing anyone.
Kevin Wendell Crumb? He has a personality that EATS people, and he’s just chilling in his chair. Sure, the lights are there - but I’m not buying it. Even dogs know that if they just run fast enough, they can outrun an electric fence shock. But there is obviously an end game here in regards to their incarceration. Dr. Staple is very mild mannered, very Pastel Cashmere. To the point that it’s almost certain her wardrobe was chosen to make her seem as non-threatening as possible, which raised all of my red flags (This is not my first M. Night Shyamalan movie.). She tells them that she has three days to convince the men that they are nothing extraordinary. Three days? That is not an arbitrary number, there’s something going on. By now everyone knows there’s a subplot brewing, et cetera.
I find Casey Cooke’s appearance in the movie to be one hell of a Nope as well as a fine example of Stockholm Syndrome. It seems like her singular function in this film was to receive terrible advice from Staple. Horrendously terrible advice. The fancy side effect is her ability to call Kevin into the light and send The Beast away for a sadly short amount of time. This is also a convenient power that doesn’t save anyone of note in the end. I won’t spoil anything, but I did not see any of that coming, and I’m not happy about it. That’s not to say I could have done a better job, but I was expecting something less final? Maybe more involved?
While the movie did answer a lot of questions that lingered from both Unbreakable and Split, I find that it created even more questions that were not answered. And, to quote my husband, when did he raid Patti LaBelle’s closet? Was that leather? Was that hole bottomless, and where did it go? How does David Dunn stay clean if water is a weakness? What society is that and how in the hell is it 10,000 years old? And who’s origin story was this, anyway? I want to hate the work of M. Night Shyamalan (I’m still annoyed by The Happening), but this is not terrible. It’s certainly no The Sixth Sense - but we’ve all come to expect these twists and turns and weird cameos. Part of me hopes for another sequel, but with what we’re left with at the end - it will be a case of moving forward with new stories. I can’t say that I would hate that. My love for M. Night Shyamalan has been renewed, et cetera.
Tracie Chung is an lifelong horror and sci-fi enthusiast, writer and all around good guy. She lives with her husband, two children, some cats and two very spirited (translation: hyperactive and bossy) Shiba Inu. Someday, Tracie hopes to quit her full time job to either assist other authors in their journey toward greatness, or be a stay-in-bed mom. Whichever happens first. For now, she’ll watch the movies so you don’t have to.