There are few filmmakers with a history that can parallel that of M. Night Shyamalan.
After skyrocketing into the public eye with the universally acclaimed horror film The Sixth Sense, he was the biggest name in Hollywood, with everyone eager to see what he would do next. His subsequent films, Unbreakable and Signs, were both positively received, despite not being on par with his spooky breakthrough film.
From there, things went rapidly downhill with a slew of mediocre outings like The Village and The Visit, and the downright train wrecks of The Last Airbender, The Happening and After Earth. It seemed like Shyamalan had simply lost his magic touch.
Then along came Split in 2016.
His contained venture into a man suffering from multiple-personality disorder appeared to be a return to form. Pair this with a surprise coda that alluded to a shared universe with Unbreakable and a future sequel, and the future for Night looked bright. Now that sequel, Glass, has arrived, and it’s time to see whether the Shyamalan of old is back once again, or if it’s as pane-ful as some of his prior work.
Glass begins with Split’s Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy) still on the loose, and a group of missing cheerleaders has prompted security guard David Dunn (Bruce Willis) to use his supernatural abilities to track down the missing girls and bring justice to their captor.
When things go awry, Crumb and Dunn find themselves – along with the elusive Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson) – in a high security psychiatric ward under the supervision of Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson), who intends to prove that the trio’s self-professed ‘super-powers’ are simply figments of their imagination that can be explained logically.
It’s here that we’re faced with Glass’s biggest problem. The pacing screeches to a grinding halt once the characters are incarcerated and, despite implications of some shady antics happening behind the scenes, there isn’t a whole lot to keep the audience engaged.
The character building could have made the tenuous therapy sessions interesting, but the writing is so filled with excessive exposition and flashbacks to previous films that the audience isn’t allowed to think for themselves, and is left to mindlessly consume what the screenplay is telling them.
The cast do everything in their power to salvage the shoddy script – Paulson does a great job portraying a likeable and sympathetic doctor, and both Willis and Jackson give solid performances in their returning roles. But it’s McAvoy who absolutely steals the show here, just like he did in Split. His ability to seamlessly transition between different personalities and bring a seemingly endless array of characters to life makes every scene he’s in a highlight.
Unfortunately, a star-studded cast of talented actors and some exciting sequences isn’t enough to save Glass from its patronising script and lengthy, tedious run-time.
In cinemas: January 17, 2018
Starring: James McAvoy, Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Sarah Paulson
Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan