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.

Contributor

Peter Bradshaw

The GuardianTramp

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