Glass review – M Night Shyamalan's superheroes assemble

The director unites Samuel L Jackson, Bruce Willis and James McAvoy from earlier films in a pointless supernatural sequel

With a bumper helping of pointlessness, M Night Shyamalan has created a bulky, lengthy, anti-climactic sequel to two of his previous films: the smart horror-thriller Split (2016) and the deeply strange mystery Unbreakable (2000), fusing them into a kind of own-brand superhero franchise. There’s a cheeky dig at a certain comic-book institution when a magazine announces Philadelphia’s newest, biggest skyscraper (a possible showdown site) as an architectural “marvel’’.

James McAvoy reprises his bravura plural-performance from Split, playing the Horde, a villain with dissociative identity disorder. Bruce Willis is back as David Dunn, the guy who miraculously survived a train crash in Unbreakable with superstrength. These days, he’s roaming the streets as a lone avenger, nicknamed the Overseer, wearing a signature hooded black poncho (which surely limits his movement and field of vision?) in partnership with his now grownup son Joseph, played again by Spencer Treat Clark, who handles the admin and monitors social media coverage back at base. And locked away in a psychiatric facility is Shyamalan’s strangest creation, Mr Glass, played by Samuel L Jackson, a villain with the bizarre superweakness of ultra-fragile bones, balanced by excessive cerebral brilliance.

These three figures are now to be yoked together by destiny, and come under the patient eye of psychiatrist Dr Ellie Staple, played by Sarah Paulson, whose mission is to persuade them that they do not have superpowers, just a malady of the mind. Like so many of Shyamalan’s adventures, Glass starts strongly and fizzles, a dramatic droop which is initially camouflaged by the escalating grandiosity of visual rhetoric, something febrile and high-concept that is visionary in everything except having vision.

At least it’s good to be reminded of Unbreakable, Shyamalan’s authentically weird gem.


Peter Bradshaw

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Glass review – an entertaining end to M Night Shyamalan’s superhero trilogy
Samuel L Jackson’s villain gets his origin story as the Unbreakable and Split characters join in the fun

Simran Hans

20, Jan, 2019 @8:00 AM

Article image
Shattered Glass: why we need to stop deconstructing our superheroes
M Night Shyamalan’s ambitious yet empty end to his comic book-inspired trilogy should be the last attempt to make faux-intellectual points about big screen heroes

Zach Vasquez

17, Jan, 2019 @8:00 AM

Article image
M Night Shyamalan announces sequel to Unbreakable and Split in same film
Director reveals both films will ‘collide’ in the new movie titled Glass, with Unbreakable’s Samuel L Jackson taking a lead role alongside Bruce Willis and Split’s James McAvoy

Andrew Pulver

27, Apr, 2017 @11:26 AM

Article image
Unbreakable at 20: the film that finally took superheroes seriously
M Night Shyamalan’s 2000 fantasy drama showed that superhero narratives can be told with patience and a straight face which changed the genre forever

Charles Bramesco

23, Nov, 2020 @2:35 PM

Article image
Split review – M Night Shyamalan twists again – and again
This suspenseful tale is surprisingly satisfying thanks to clever plotting and a fine performance from James McAvoy as a man with two dozen personalities

Steve Rose

19, Jan, 2017 @10:00 PM

Article image
Unbreakable review – supernatural thriller that sends you on a frantic mental scurry
Lingers potently in the mind for hours, and somehow without its flaws, eccentricities and longueurs it would not be the film it is

Peter Bradshaw

29, Dec, 2000 @12:21 AM

Article image
The Visit review – M Night Shyamalan's found-footage loser
The Sixth Sense director despatches a pair of charmless tweens to a predictable fate in a dull, derivative and dated drama

Mike McCahill

10, Sep, 2015 @8:15 PM

Article image
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children review – amiable Tim Burton fantasy
Terence Stamp, Samuel L Jackson and Eva Green battle time loops in this adventure adapted from the bestseller by Ransom Riggs

Peter Bradshaw

29, Sep, 2016 @9:30 PM

Article image
Old review – M Night Shyamalan’s fast-ageing beach horror is top notch hokum
With a cast worthy of Agatha Christie, this tale of a resort where time has been terrifyingly accelerated is brilliantly poised between serious and silly

Peter Bradshaw

22, Jul, 2021 @4:00 PM

Article image
Fando y Lis review – Jodorowsky's freaks-and-flesh debut
Embarking on a bizarre desert quest, a mysterious couple encounter strange scenes and lots of nudity in the Chilean director’s rereleased 60s ‘happening’

Peter Bradshaw

06, Feb, 2020 @7:00 AM