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By midlandsmovies, Mar 11 2019 04:26PM



GLASS (2019) Dir. M Night Shyamalan


A quick story - at the end of Split (2016) I was left slightly disappointed as I was informed there would be a twist and discovered one of the 23 multiple personalities of James McAvoy as Kevin Crumb was actually a true evil power known as the Beast. However, in that film’s very final moments director Shyamalan pans to Bruce Willis (as David Dunn) and was hugely shocked to find the film is revealed to be a sequel to Shyamalan’s down-to-earth superhero flick Unbreakable from 2000. Wow.


One of the better twists from the master of them, Glass is the final part of the trilogy and sees McAvoy, Willis and Samuel L Jackson locked up in a psychiatric ward, where their ‘superpowers’ are to be studied by Sarah Poulson’s Doctor Ellie Staple. We open with David and his son as vigilantes who free a group of kidnapped cheerleaders but in David’s fight with The Beast they are captured by the authorities. Incarcerated with both David and Kevin is Mr. Glass (Jackson) – the evil brains from Unbreakable – who is heavily sedated and all three are told their abilities are simply psychiatric disorders and little more than a fantasy.


The film links the characters and themes from the previous movies using colours, comic book tropes and a self-referential awareness of its own construction. Shyamalan uses every cinematic trick in the book – point of view, spinning cameras, static shots and much more to keep the film visually interesting in what, if you break it down, is a standard thriller tale. All three actors are stupendous though – Willis’ more recent cinematic outings have been dubious at best – but here his pensive, almost uninterested, facial blandness actually works as a man doubting his own experiences.


As Mr. Glass plays clever games within the hospital’s walls – he sets up an escape plan with Kevin whilst the film is full of surprises and shows Shyamalan’s expert use of pace and, more importantly, an unbearable amount of tension. In simple scenes of dialogue we feel every character motivation and the horror techniques he used so well in The Sixth Sense and The Visit are re-visited here to great effect. Shyamalan also provides a number of technical twists – fights are witnessed from the inside of a van, an important escape plan punch-up is shown in the background and with an opening that plays on what can’t be seen – he is an expert of what to show and what not to show. And where possible, to show the audience what they weren’t expecting at every turn.


The film rolls to a climax which is the most disappointing part of the movie. Without giving it away, the film tries to expand the super-human ideas into a worldwide issue, when the films up to this point have been very much about the small and personal acts of good and evil. By using themes of conspiracy and internet technology, the film loses the humanity and character-study work it had delivered so brilliantly beforehand. Anya Taylor-Joy as Casey Cooke (from Split) and Charlayne Woodard as Mrs. Price, Elijah's mother both provide good support roles to flesh out the story.


However, it is to Shyamalan’s credit he not only got to finish a trilogy started 19 years ago but to do so in such a satisfying manner. Ignore the naysayers who have unwisely projected their own expectations onto a film that never could have existed – which is always a hiding to nothing – as Glass surprises by being the kind of dark, tension-filled shattering success that are nowadays shuffled off to Netflix when they should be enjoyed on the big screen as it provides more than satisfying thrills from the beginning until the end.


★★★★


Michael Sales

By midlandsmovies, May 31 2017 08:58AM



Split (2017) Dir. M. Night Shyamalan


Split begins when a group of regular teenage girls are abducted by James McAvoy’s creepy stalker “Dennis” and detained against their will in a location unknown. With Shyamalan’s penchant for dark twisty thrillers, we find all is not what it seems and soon uncover the man is merely one of 23 different personalities that inhabit his body.


These characters range from the old and the young and even women and it’s to McAvoy’s talents that he can pull off such a role. He mostly omits any subtlety but is clearly having huge amounts of fun with each extreme incarnation.


Shyamalan keeps us guessing as to what the true nature of this person is as the girls try everything from escape plans to befriending “Hedwig”, one of the younger personalities, in order to get out of their locked rooms. The Witch’s Anya Taylor-Joy excels as the leading girl and along with this and the Ridley Scott produced ‘Morgan’, the actress is carving quite a career in spookily dark thrillers that go beyond the natural.


With this absurd premise, the filmmaker doesn’t try too much to take the audience down the route of an accurate medical depiction – quite the opposite in fact – and he mostly keeps the transitions between each of them off screen. This keeps the stakes high as we’re never sure as to which one may re-enter the room and which of them knows information the others don't.


But this being a Shyamalan film we must talk about his inevitable favourite trick of the trade. As the film hits its emotional summit, he rounds the story off with a sense that supernatural forces may actually be a part of the kidnappers psyche but he keeps it ambiguous almost until the end.


[SPOILERS]


And it is the end that is most surprising. McAvoy’s character has a supervillain vibe about him with mental (and then a physical manifestation of) powers that go beyond the real-life affliction he is suffering from. Here I felt Shyamalan had jumped the shark as I was enjoying the authentic world created. Yet, in a world full of spoilers, trailers that give away too much and news sites covering every minutiae of productions, Shyamalan manages one of his best hoodwinks yet.


In a lingering last shot we hear a journalist report on the events and comparing them to a similar villainous occurrence involving one “Mr. Glass”. And then David Dunn (Bruce Willis) appears. That’s right folks. It’s an Unbreakable sequel. Blimey!


With this and The Visit, Shyamalan has returned to his roots and gone someway, at the least, to prove his directing capabilities after misfires like The Happening and After Earth.


I was enjoying the film on its own terms but the director’s cherry expands the universe of his much beloved super-hero second film and the fact he had kept it under wraps (with another studio no less!) should be commended. It helped an already tightly wound morbid tale of mental woe conclude in a way that linked its real-life terrors with a mystical mystery that is hopefully expanded upon further.


7.5/10


Midlands Movies Mike


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