REVIEW: GLASS (2019) – The “Batman v Superman” We Deserved

Glass Review - movie's cover image
*Minor spoilers for Split and Unbreakable ahead, because the very premise of Glass makes it impossible to discuss this film without discussing bits from the first two.*

There’s a moment in Glass, before the twists, where the film solidified what it wanted to be. Samuel L. Jackson’s Mister Glass is in a room with a nurse, and they have this standoff of sorts with a flashlight. It’s a bizarrely brilliant scene, and one that lets Jackson act with just his facial expressions. It doesn’t go for bombast. It doesn’t turn into a fistfight. It’s the mental version of the highway fight in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

In Glass, M Night Shyamalan brings his comic book trilogy of 19 years to a thrilling conclusion. The film combines the casts of his standalone efforts, Unbreakable and Split, leading us on a uniquely muted ride; one that maintains the grounded nature of the first two while still exploring new ground. Glass doesn’t try to one-up its predecessors. Spectacle is not in this series DNA; in fact, Unbreakable spent much of its character development convincing the audience that the spectacle of comic books were a fiction. Instead, Glass is a film more interested in asking what it means to be a mastermind, a hero, or a villain.

First and foremost, they are people.

Bruce Willis’ David Dunn returns in full strength, now being called “The Overseer” by local eyewitness. Willis’ acting is so much better here than it was in Unbreakable; though he has the least to do out of the three main characters, his plot is the one we find ourselves rooting for the most.

Kevin Wendell Crumb, played by James McAvoy, gets even more to do here than he did in his solo film. “The Horde” of 24 personalities often steal the show, and we get to explore nearly all of them this time. Kevin also has the meatiest character arc. Glass is at its best when it’s exploring the accountability of one’s actions when those actions were taken by 4 other people, separate but equal from The Horde inside you.

Finally, we have the mastermind. Mister Glass doesn’t exactly have character development in this movie. Rather, he’s acting upon his established developments in Unbreakable. Jackson steals every moment he’s onscreen, and this is ostensibly one of his better roles in recent years.

The signature M Night twists, of course, are here. I felt that they were earned twists. But the biggest of all isn’t the ending. It’s the fact that Glass excels as the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice we deserved. BvS is a film that took pride in setting up a triangle, with Lex Luther convincing Batman and Superman to fight each other. The problem is, the entire fight in that movie is contrived, and Lex is left looking rather simple minded.

Glass is the polar opposite. Mister Glass has solid motivation with clear cut consequences for failure. And the fight between David and Kevin was earned and had relevant thematic stakes. It leads to an ending that will be polarizing to some, but one that I feel M Night earned by sticking to his guns.

4.5/5 Stars

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