When audiences saw the twist in The Sixth Sense, they couldn’t wait to see what M. Night Shyamalan came up with next. They weren’t sure what to make of Unbreakable at first but have learned to appreciate it over the years and ask Shyamalan for a sequel. In Split he revealed he was still thinking about Unbreakable and finally Glass brings Unbreakable and Split together.
Kevin (James McAvoy) is still kidnapping high school girls and subjecting them to his dissociative identities. Lucky for them David Dunn (Bruce Willis) is on the case. He’s been roaming the streets fighting criminals since he discovered he was a psychic with super strength, but someone’s after both of them too. Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) takes them to her institution where she’s also treating Elijah Price (Samuel L Jackson) who has been catatonic for years.
First of all, it’s just great to see all these characters again. We got the tease of Dunn at the end of Split but this is real quality time. We catch up with his family including his grown up son, Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark). That relationship was the heart of Unbreakable and of course it necessarily matured since Joseph is a young man now.
It hasn’t been as long since we saw Kevin but McAvoy is so good he immediately makes you glad to see all Kevin’s alters again. I mean, we want Dunn to rescue the girls but Kevin is compelling. In a way, he can hit the ground running in Glass because Split has already introduced the alters and explained how they share his body.
Even in the third film in the series, Shyamalan is asking questions. Dr. Staple offers rational explanations for Dunn and Kevin’s Powers to make them question themselves. She’s convincing enough the audience may believe her too, and that’s what Shyamalan wants. Anything is possible, the extraordinary or the rational.
The movie is named after Elijah’s alter ego Mr. Glass but the film takes its time revealing what Glass is really up to. His powers are intellectual and he is always several steps ahead of you, therefore you have to be patient to learn what he’s doing. Jackson seems to be having a blast both with Elijah’s catatonic tics and his monologuing.
But this trilogy is about extraordinary powers so at various points in Glass, the characters display them. The action is thrilling and Glass has the best of both worlds. There are the ominous suggestions of powers and the explicit display of them. They’re still more grounded than the big studio brand of superhero movies, but that’s what makes them more thrilling. If people really had powers they’d probably look a bit messier than Superman and Batman, but they’d still be exciting.
Shyamalan finds all the angles to make his action feel epic. Most of his films are about pulling away before you see the action. In Glass he can let loose and still use his creative camerawork to present the action in clever ways.
This is Shyamalan’s first true sequel. Split was mainly the origin of Kevin/The Beast with a tag revealing the connection. As a sequel, Shyamalan finds good balance continuing the stories of both films, giving the fans what they want to see in both, while breaking new ground. This is the first time all three characters are in the same scene, so that organically moves the story into new realms than any of their solo stories.
And, of course, you can never be quite sure what to believe. Shymalan is still leaving breadcrumbs for his rug-pull twists, and there’s more than one in Glass. So even if you see one coming, he’ll still surprise you.