I had gushed over Split a while back and was looking forward to Glass ever since M.Night Shyamalan, who would have been just another friendly neighborhood Manoj had his parents chosen not to cross the Pacific, dropped hints towards the end of Split that he was building his own superhero universe, minimalistic of course. Considering the fact that every other big studio is battling for box office supremacy in the genre these days, wouldn’t blame Shyamalan if he felt driven to explore his core competencies in that context too. He has but gone on record to state that he indeed had three films on his mind when he wrote Unbreakable all those years back. Though I cannot recall any indications of the sort right now from Unbreakable I’ll take his word for it. If the man’s debut feature is still not good enough for the Hollywood elites to acknowledge his genius, they atleast should acknowledge his sheer confidencen given the fact that he has churned out a superhero movie universe franchise in no time with almost zero CGI. Well, at least not with the Marvel or DC kind of mind numbing CGI.
If Unbreakable was ultimately a philolosphical take on comic books at large, Split was far removed and was more of a catalogue of everything James McAvoy was capable of, as an actor, apart from being Shyamalan‘s magnificent return to his arena, that being the psychological thriller. Shyamalan deflty combines the elements of both these movies, apart from the characters, obviously, in Glass. What helps Glass the most is the pace at which the story progresses. In a stark departure from his signature style, no time is wasted building up the elements of suspense in Glass. Shyamalan’s sense of humor is intact too, which helps. While every other celebrated filmmaker out there has reinvented the most loved superheroes of our times with origin stories, Shyamalan has taken those superheroes, stripped them bare of their capes and tights and placed them on a couch in a shrink’s office, literally, rather than on a battlefield. If the Marvel and DC movies had a troubled soul, Glass would be it. In Unbreakable, he explored the dynamics of a superhero- supervillain relationship, so to speak. Here, in Glass it’s about the balance of power and order, utlimately.
James McAvoy is back at what he does best and the Oscar snub hasn’t dampened his spirits it seems. This time around he has to share screen time between the other two Shyamalan favroites, Bruce Willis and Samuel.L.Jackson. Willis’s character is the most one-dimensional character of the three and this could be one reason why Spencer Treat Clarke makes a return here as a makeshit Alfred to Dunn’ Overseer avatar. Willis’s character inadvertently owes it to Samuel.L.Jackson’s Elijah ultimately for the discovery of his own abilities and is the reason why I felt he is one dimensional if not for the presence of his anti-hero counterpart, Mr.Glass. To borrow a borrowed line from another pathbreaking superhero movie, all Glass is trying to say to Dunn is, “You complete me”. Glass is the most moving character in this film though he is supposedly the mastermind supervillain. Shyamalan who has made a return to reckoning after being lost in cinematic oblivion for a while, I feel has actually turned a nose up at the big studios who are busy dishing out superhero movies on hughe budgets, by making a couple of films in the same genre on a shoestring budget. Or maybe he’s just doing penance for The Last Airbender and After Earth.