Taking a look at all three films in the “Glass” trilogy by M. Night Shyamalan.
By Jelina Cortero
CAREFUL! REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS!
The first film of the trilogy, “Unbreakable,” began with a common man, David Dunn (Bruce Willis), who had become the only survivor on a derailed train that killed everyone except him. His character seemed to have incredible physical strength, astounding intuition for danger, and a unique “unbreakable” nature. With that, it introduced us to comic book expert Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), who refers to himself as Mr. Glass due to the constant teasing he received as a child. His character had bones that were so fragile, a simple fall could break and fracture his entire body, leaving him with excruciating pain, multiple casts, and surgeries.
However, Elijah had a theory, which he explained to David, that made him believe he was something out of a comic book. Superheroes could possibly exist in the real world and that would explain a human’s ability to do extraordinary things. This led David Dunn to become the “Tiptoe Man,” a sort of silent vigilante hero. Although this movie came out in the year 2000, the film was way ahead of its time! Its emotional plot and superhero/comic book deconstruction made it Shyamalan’s best of the entire series. But it was just the beginning.
That brings us to our next movie, “Split,” starring James McAvoy as Kevin Wendell Crum, a man who suffers from a mental illness in which he has 23 different personalities. “Split” followed Kevin as he struggled to maintain control of his life as the 23 personalities, also known as “the horde,” kept fighting their way to be in the so-called spotlight. Whichever personality came out acted on their own, making Kevin kidnap and imprison three teenage girls. At the end of the film, his most important personalities is labeled as “the beast” in which he becomes animalistic, growls, is unrealistically strong, can climb on walls, and ultimately eats people.
This psychological thriller film was impressive in its ability to make us believe that his personalities made him some sort of a villain. However, it failed to stress the research behind mental illnesses and didn’t really acknowledge that he was just a very sick man who had a traumatic childhood. It was honestly unrecognizable as a sequel to “Unbreakable” had Bruce Willis not made a cameo at the end of the film.
This leads us into the final film of the trilogy, “Glass.” “Glass” focused on bringing the two films together in a sort of epic comic book/superhuman showdown between the hero David Dunn and “the beast.” All three characters, including Elijah, were brought into a mental facility under the watchful eye of Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) who tries to convince each of them that they are simply just normal human beings despite the belief they are superhumans with powers.
During the film, Elijah, who was thought to be the weakest of the three, finally revealed what seemed to be his superpower—his mind. And boy, was Elijah unimaginably clever in this film, as he was unveiled to be the true villain of the entire series, carefully calculating and manipulating every twist. He did a phenomenal job, using his obsession with proving the existence of humans with superpowers to prove to the world that they exist.
Although this sounds like it would have been a great watch, it was a truly unsatisfying ending to the trilogy as each of the main characters were killed for the insensible reason of some cult society trying in their pointless attempt to hide the fact that superhumans actually can exist. Horrid ending. This concluding chapter was completely in bad taste and only proved that there was absolutely nothing more that needed to be added to wrap up the series.
I would have left “Glass” to be unmade, and leave both “Unbreakable” and “Split” as stand-alones. It was such a step backward for M. Night Shyamalan; I was waiting for the final film with excitement but was left displeased, malcontent, and just straight disappointed.