anya taylor joy, bruce willis, glass, james mcavoy, m night syamalan, samuel jackson, Split, unbreakable
I remember it clearly, the end credits were rolling, the auditorium lights were fading up when a well-known media personality, that I won’t name, turned around in his seat in front and said to my friends and I;
“What the fuck was that?”
The year was 2000 and I’d just sat through a preview screening of M. Night Shyamalan’s much-anticipated follow-up to his previous blockbuster ‘The Sixth Sense’, ‘Unbreakable’. My friends and my reaction was the complete polar opposite of said famed personality. We saw the film for what it was, an utter genius take on a superhero origin movie.
‘Unbreakable’ was in fact a bold experiment by Disney, they’d entrusted their new wunderkind writer/director to follow up his previous success with another, and he’d gone and made a superhero movie way before anyone had.
Over the years that followed I re-watched and re-watched its Special Edition DVD. It was my go-to movie any time I was looking for something to watch. I devoured its rich story telling, it’s perverse humour, the subtle technique in reveal and what to not reveal. I loved the raw drama; of a normal couple toppling over a razors edge, two middle-aged men (Bruce Willis and Samuel L Jackson) searching for their place in the universe, a son desperately holding onto that time in your life when your parents are infallible. None of these were, or are, the standard ingredients of a comic book superhero movie. I savoured the Special Features on the DVD, particularly the ‘deleted scenes’, lamenting on their loss to ‘Unbreakable’ considering they were such strong scenes.
I loved the film from back to front…but the critics didn’t. Reading bad review upon bad review I wondered whether the critics had watched the same film.
Over the years I’d heard rumours that ‘Unbreakable ‘was to be the first film, the origin film, of a trilogy, but the more and more M Night spiralled into mediocrity with flop after flop, first came ‘The Lady In The Water’ and ‘Avatar The Last Airbender’, etc. etc., only slightly redeeming himself with ‘The Visit’.
So flash forward to 2018 and there I was ‘giving M Night another go’, I sat in my lounge room watching ‘Split’ because, well…James McAvoy is always bloody amazing and I’d just watched Anya Taylor-Joy in ‘The Witch’, so yeah….
And I was really enjoying it a lot. Though the more and more I watched, more and more something nagged at me – there was something really familiar at play here. The subtle reveals, the perverse humour, its dark fantastical reality.
Was McAvoy’s many characters crazy? Hell yeah, he did have some serious mental defects but the big question, as with David Dunn in ‘Unbreakable’…were his powers real or a figment of a wild imagination?
Would we see a supernatural being called The Beast or would it be some delusion fool with a furry fetish?
But it was as I was watching The Beast talk about the ‘broken’ being pure and the ‘unbroken’ were to be punished that things really started to click. By the time the ‘Unbreakable’ music began to swell as Crumb hid in his escape house and we cut to a non-descript diner with David Dunn I was literally off the sofa screaming at the TV.
“IT’S A MOTHER FUCKING UNBREAKABLE SEQUEL!!!”
And so now I have my finale.
‘Glass’ is really not a movie I can openly discuss with giving too much away, and frankly I’m still thinking about it several hours after I watched it. However again I sat in a cinema with an audience that I don’t think quite understood its wit. I think I was literally the only one laughing at its dark humour.
The cast were amazing, all returned from the previous two films (except Robin Wright) and why wouldn’t they, this was as much their story as it was the leading pro/antagonists. M Night (returning as his cameo from ‘Unbreakable’) even managed to include the deleted scenes from ‘Unbreakable’ as if they were made solely for that purpose.
This is not a conventional film though; ‘Glass’ is really is an act three of a three-film story. And while both ‘Unbreakable’ and ‘Split’ appear to be origin stories for the three lead characters Mr Glass, The Beast, and The Overseer, this transcends the ‘origin’ tale to make it an ‘origin of species’ story.
Already, like Unbreakable, critics do not like Glass but filmmakers don’t make films for critics.
‘Glass’ is a fantastic final chapter to M Night Shyamalan’s daring superhero experiment. It’s exciting, it’s funny, it’s bloody entertaining and it’s a very well calculated story from a bold director who maintained the tenacity to play the long game here to create a three part opus for himself and us.
‘Unbreakable’, ‘Split’ and ‘Glass’… the little superhero films that could and did.
- Myles Davies