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  Glass The Specials
Year: 2019
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Stars: James McAvoy, Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Anya Taylor-Joy, Sarah Paulson, Spencer Treat Clark, Charlayne Woodard, Luke Kirby, Adam David Thompson, M. Night Shyamalan, Shannon Destiny Ryan, Diana Silvers, Nina Wisner, Kyli Zion, Serge Didenko
Genre: Drama, Thriller, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: There's a serial killer of young women still at large in Philadelphia, and from his only surviving kidnap victim, Casey Cooke (Anya Taylor-Joy), the police have a pretty good idea of who he is, a man with a serious case of multiple personalities who was originally Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy) but now - who knows which version of him you will meet? Currently he has kidnapped a quartet of cheerleaders, and the cops are desperately trying to track him down, yet someone else is as well, a do-gooder who has been meting out vigilante justice for some years now without being caught. They call him The Overseer (Bruce Willis), and he is the closest thing this world has to a superhero...

When Split ended the way it did, with an unexpected link to writer and director M. Night Shyamalan's earlier hit Unbreakable, it did make a funny kind of sense, though he had never crafted a sequel before, his love of the twist finale did feed into the potential for a mash-up between those two efforts. Glass was that combination, and perhaps more of a sequel to the 2000 work since it mused over the potential for comic books to influence the real world in much the same fashion as he had nineteen years before, despite Willis, who offered a surprisingly subtle reading in the first film, not quite stepping up to the mark in the same manner here as he had for what was one of his best.

Nevertheless, back at the turn of the millennium, it was as if Shyamalan was predicting the way the biggest blockbusters would be travelling, immersing themselves not in the written word of novels, but in the splash panels of Marvel, D.C. and any other comic business that had finally found the alchemy turning paper into box office gold. Therefore it was interesting to see him look back on almost two decades of the genre: would he do so with a jaded eye, or would he be enthused about the concepts of fulfilling your special potential on the biggest stage imaginable, as these movies were all about delivering the promise of? Yet actually, he went about it in a surprisingly perverse way.

So whereas, say, the Marvel Cinematic Universe was, shall we say, fond of a superpowered punch-up, in this Shyamalan was more fond of thought-provoking conversation, going quieter where conventionally he could have gone bigger and brasher. It was a braver approach than he was given credit for, and pulled the focus towards his cast in a technique that in Marvel, would often give way to computer graphics and stuntmen, leaving the intimacy to serve as the excuse for a little getting to know you personality or a series of chummy quips. Here Willis, McAvoy and the also returning Samuel L. Jackson were afforded some neat character pieces, McAvoy most obviously as he had so much to work with, but Jackson demonstrating he could be just as powerful when going quiet as he could going loud.

Willis, well, occasionally he would remind you what a great character he had in David Dunn, for instance the short scene where he and McAvoy realise they have been placed in opposite cells of the maximum security mental hospital (their expressions are laugh out loud priceless), but whether by accident or design, having him incarcerated as delusional did prove more of a kryptonite for him than any of that water that was supposed to be his Achilles heel. Nevertheless, as psychiatrist Sarah Paulson indicated, not everyone likes the idea of comics and superheroes being the universal base for world culture, as while they are all about promoting you to live life to its ultimate expression, the question remained, what if the wrong people were inspired? What if in your hero narrative, you are causing serious harm, consciously or otherwise? It was an excellent point, and not one that Glass quite got to grips with, ending on a note that seems positive, but may be more ambivalent than it appears. We can't all be special, it mused, and those who believe they are may be wrong - or right, but dangerously so.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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M. Night Shyamalan  (1970 - )

Indian-born, American-raised writer and director, whose forte is taking cliched fantasy stories and reinventing them with low-key treatment, usually with a child at the heart of them. After gentle comedy Wide Awake, he hit the big time with supernatural drama The Sixth Sense. Superhero tale Unbreakable was also successful, as was the religious alien invasion parable Signs. Shyamalan's mystery drama The Village was seen as ploughing the same furrow for too long by some, and his fantasies Lady in the Water, The Happening, The Last Airbender and After Earth (which he didn't conceive the plot for) were met with near-universal derision. On a lower budget, he made The Visit, which was cautiously received as a partial return to form, and Split, which was his biggest hit in some time, along with its sequel Glass, a thoughtful if eccentric take on superheroes. Mid-pandemic he then released horror Old. He also co-wrote Stuart Little.

 
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