MOVIE BUFF: Ambition cracks Shyamalan’s ‘Glass’

Universal Pictures

Writer-director M. Night Shyamalan’s “Glass” is a tricky movie that’s bound to be divisive.

It does not deliver what most probably anticipated from a sequel to Shyamalan’s films “Unbreakable” (2000) and “Split” (2017), but that’s not necessarily a bad. Or is it?

The movie does pit the invulnerable super hero David Dunn/The Overseer (Bruce Willis) from “Unbreakable” against the multi-personality, sociopathic murder Kevin Wendell Crumb/Horde/The Beast (James McAvoy), but in a somewhat grounded version of a classic super-hero tale, there is no real victor because both are captured and locked up in a mental institution, where the bulk of the movie plays out.

New In Local Theaters

  • Glass (PG-13) 2 hr. 9 min.
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  • The Favourite (R) 1 hr. 59 min.
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There they along with Elijah Price/Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson) the villain from “Unbreakable” undergo group psychoanalysis by Dr. Ellie Staple, a psychiatrist who specializes in treating patients who have delusions of grandeur.

The question is whether Dunn, Crumb, and Price are delusional or actually possess super-human abilities?

Along for the ride are Casey Cooke, (Anya Taylor-Joy) the lone surviver of the teens kidnapped and terrorized by The Horde in “Split;” Joseph Dunn, (Spencer Treat Clark) The Overseer’s son who acts behind the scenes to aid in the heroic crusade; and Mrs. Price, (Charlayne Woodward) Mr. Glass’ supportive mother.

It must said that “Glass” is not a movie intended to stand on its own. It relies on the viewer having seen both “Unbreakable” and “Split” not only to catch its nuances but also to support the story.

Like all of Shyamalan’s films, the movie is shot well, and what action it contains, works, but the film is a slow burn, and unfortunately fails to fully deliver on the grand finale the film seems to set up

McAvoy once again shines as Crumb. Not all of the character’s 23 personalities are on display, but in the ones McAvoy unspools, he’s terribly convincing and entertaining.

Willis is engaged as Dunn. He doesn’t just sleepwalk through the movie as he has been known to do in recent years, but it’s not a very demanding role. Dunn is a man of action, not words; however, he’s cooped up in an insane asylum for the bulk of the film.

Likewise, when given the opportunity, Jackson chews scenery like a lion, but his character is sedated or pretending to be through most of the film.

Though the movie does offer a few surprises, there’s no stunning twist that Shyamalan became renown for following his initial 1998 hit “Sixth Sense.”

The movie itself is sort of a grand twist on the core concept of the X-Men comics, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, but it’s clumsily executed from my point of view.

Shyamalan’s message to be wary of society stifling the individual is nice, I guess, but on the whole, I would have preferred a bit more action built in to my super-hero morality play. Unfortunately, Shyamalan promises too much in the first two acts, but delivers too little in the film’s third.

(PG-13) 2 hr. 9 min.
Grade: C

Classic Corner

RKO Radio Pictures

Murder, My Sweet
If you like mysteries, yarns about private detectives, or the procedural dramas that dominate much of network TV, then you at least owe a tip of your hat to the 1944 noir classic “Murder, My Sweet.”

Turner Classic Movies is airing the adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s 1940 novel “Farewell, My Lovely,” at 11 p.m. Saturday night.

The film stars Dick Powell as Chandler’s hard-boiled detective Philip Marlowe, and the film directed by Edward Dmytryk excellently captures the grit and desperation of the novel as well as as Chandler’s first-person narrative style.

The plot is convoluted and unrolls from Marlowe’s point of view as he’s being interrogated a by police Lt. Randall about his knowledge of the murders of ex-con Moose Malloy (Mike Mazurki) and the wealthy Mr. Grayle (Miles Mander).

Marlowe became involved when Malloy hired him to find his old girlfriend Velma Valento, whom he was with prior to his eight-year stretch in the pen. While trying to track down Valento, Marlowe accepts another job as a bodyguard for ladies man Lindsay Marriott (Douglas Walton) who is to act as a go-between for a ransom payment for some stolen jewels.

During the meet-up for the ransom, Marriot is shot dead, and Marlowe is knocked unconscious. When Marlowe awakens and reports the murder to the police the next day, he’s warned to not interfere in a case involving a Jules Amthor, but when pumped for information by a woman posing as a reporter, Marlowe can’t keep his nose out of the mystery.

The film moves quickly like Chandler’s page-turner novel, but in doing so it still sets up all the trappings and conventions of the modern detective and cop stories that we still find so interesting today.

Powell, known for his light comedy work prior to this film, is cast against type, but his charisma in the role of Marlowe opened the door for the dramatic and tough-guy roles that populated the second half of his acting career.

The cast which includes Clair Trevor and Anne Shirley in the pivotal roles of Helen and Ann Grayle respectively support Powell well, with the massive Mazurki being particularly threatening as the ex-con in search of his best girl.

Though the film is dated, its mystery should keep anyone unfamiliar with the story guessing from the structure of the story and the skill in which Dmytryk stages it.