After 2000’s Unbreakable, there was a lot of talk that this was almost meant to be part of a trilogy. Shyalaman has been all over the map. He claimed he had no such plans when Unbreakable first came out…but about a year later talked about sequels. And I really loved Unbreakable. I wanted to get those follow ups. I wanted to see what David Dunn would do next.
When Split was revealed as a stealth sequel to Unbreakable, I was thrilled. And the trailers had me quite excited for Glass. So, did Shyalaman create a great trilogy?
Well, when David Dunn and his son (who run a security business together, and also work together in stopping crime) interfere with the Horde’s (the nickname for the character from Split) attempt to kill another group of young women, the two are captured by the authorities. They are sent to an institution where they are introduced to Dr. Ellie Staple. She specializes in people who believe they have powers.
Her goal is to help them realize they are suffering a delusion.
The film makes it very clear that she is wrong, of course…and that is one of the problems of the film. Staple clearly represents Shyalaman’s critics. This is a petty bit of behavior that stretches back to at least Lady In the Water, in which Bob Balaban’s critic is presented as a fool who does not understand true genius. And that gets portrayed here. Except it is a little worse. Here, Ellie is an insincere critic, and she is arguable a central villain, rather than an oblivious one.
The film has some annoying retcons in its plans of revealing that Glass is an even bigger architect than we realized (to be fair, the retcon does not suggest Glass intended for this, it was just a convenient byproduct of his acts in Unbreakable).
Add to this the fact that the film does lean hard into the notion that the Horde is actually a separate thing from his superpower…it really undermines any defense agains criticisms of the portrayal of the Horde and mental health.
There are some things I like. McAvoy does a great job in his performance. Jackson gives the kind of solid performance I expect. I also appreciate that both David Dunn and Mrs. Price are played by the same actors who played the roles in Unbreakable (the same for the Comic Shop Owner).
The reveal that all three films represented an origin story is a bit…deflating. I mean, people complain about the decompressed storytelling of modern comics…but Brian Michael Bendis never took nineteen years to tell one story.
The film seems to unload twist upon twist in the final act and that gets tiring. Glass is an underwhelming and disappointing ending to the Unbreakable story.