Curiosity is a quality that keeps on giving. M. Night Shyamalan, for instance, is a filmmaker who is eager to explore his own craft. And while his back catalogue has included projects that have snowballed out of his own range, he’s at least owning his ambition and finding original stories to tell audiences. His latest collaborations with indie empire Blumhouse Productions have been great vehicles to anchor his passion projects and visual filmmaking. Such is the case for Glass, the finale to his superhero saga that was once a secret.
Although Glass is a excellent final piece to his intricate puzzle, it’s still a movie for a particular audience. In a way, the film is a gesture of gratitude to loyal movie goers who are quite favourable of Shyamalan’s sophomore feature, Unbreakable (2000). Earning somewhat of a cult following, Unbreakable was an origin story about a lowly security guard suffering from survivor’s guilt only to find out his true purpose. Audiences were caught off guard 16 years later by Split. The thriller about three young girls kidnapped by a man with multiple personalities turned out to be its own origin tale about a superhuman, rivalling the heroic story told in Unbreakable which also takes place in the same universe.
With Glass, M. Night Shyamalan simultaneously elaborates on the lore of Unbreakable and Split while pitting them in a grander narrative that challenges the integrity and motivations of these characters. Original actors Bruce Willis, James McAvoy, and Samuel L. Jackson reprise their iconic roles, while supporting characters Anya Taylor-Joy and Spencer Treat Clark return to add more depth to the connections they have with the supernatural leads. Even Shyamalan reprises his cameo. It’s a small detail, but one fans of the series will appreciate.
Shyamalan has always had a keen eye for symbolic visual cues, which he has now fine tuned into an attentive skill. Glass teases audiences with ideas of epic heroes and villains. At a time when Marvel and DC are at the forefront of popcorn entertainment, this is a clever way to lure interest. When really, at it’s core, Glass is a film dedicated to forgotten details that build character and shape us into who we are, and how our legacy is defined but them. This theme is even more apparent when these superhuman figures are quarantined and interrogated by Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson), a specialist who is determined to strip back delusions of fantasy and convince people that they don’t inhabit the “special” qualities they believe they have.
It’s difficult to discuss Glass without roping in Unbreakable and Split, so I’m not sure if Glass works as a standalone film. Again, this is a movie with specific qualities within its own experimental franchise. But, as part of this saga, Glass is a masterful ending.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie