WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for M. Night Shyamalan's Glass, in theaters now.
M. Night Shyamalan has had some ups and downs in his directorial career, but Unbreakable and Split stand tall as some of his best work. Given the affinity for superhero films at present, fans eagerly awaited the closing chapter to this trilogy to see how Bruce Willis' David Dunn, James McAvoy's Beast and Samuel L. Jackson's Elijah Price would collide.
However, as ambitious as Glass is, the final act falters badly and shatters Shyamalan's dreams of achieving a near-perfect superhero trilogy.
THE VILLAINS FELT SUPER FORCED
At the end of the film, we find out psychiatrist Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) and her Clover organization have been operating behind-the-scenes -- either killing off the superhuman population and attempting to cover it up, or manipulating them into thinking they're normal. This, however, doesn't fit the nature of the trilogy, which was so character-driven and personal.
Ellie and her cohorts come off as style over substance, and Shyamalan forces them in as villains when the movie didn't need it. We already had the depraved Beast causing chaos, Elijah in the middle as an antihero trying to save his species and David looking to protect the world from the terror his kind could inflict. But instead of focusing on the crises of conscience within these individuals, Shyamalan plugs Clover in like Marvel's S.H.I.E.L.D., eliminating the character study that worked so well in the preceding films, and which audiences expected more of.
The first two acts of the movie accomplish this well, getting us invested in the dynamic between these three forces of nature and the inevitable impact they'd have on the oustide world. Building to the fight between David and the Beast was immensely intriguing (with Elijah pulling their strings in the background), but the way Shyamalan just tosses in some secret cabal out of the blue with no seeds planted in the franchise so far does nothing but add an extra layer of complexity. It makes the plot convoluted and distracts from the characters who deserved the attention.
NO CLOSURE FOR THE SUPERHUMANS
In the finale, when we discover Elijah's train wreck didn't just unearth David as someone with superstrength and invulnerable skin, but it also killed Kevin's father. Shyamalan cleverly links the trio together as part of some dark, interconnected tragedy. This meant Kevin was left alone as a kid to deal with his abusive mom, which was the genesis of his mind fracturing into dozens of personalities. This twist felt poetic in its cruel irony, leaving us excited to see how all parties would reconcile this in the closing stages.
The Beast rightfully wounds Elijah by pummeling him, breaking up his insides. But just when we think we'll get to see him and David settle their score, Clover takes them out. After they die, Elijah bleeds out as well, thus officially robbing us of the closure we so craved after 19 years. We never see Kevin address Elijah as the man who murdered his dad in cold blood and created all the voices he lived with, or David convincing Elijah they need a more peaceful way of unveiling superhumans to the world, as opposed to a violent, public spectacle.
Lastly, David doesn't get a chance to break the Beast or at least convince Kevin to reign in his dangerous personalities. At this point, it really wouldn't have mattered who won, but it should have been one of these three. After all, we had emotional connections to them over the course of these three films, so victory should have gone to someone here. Sadly, Shyamalan robs them of their moment of glory, instead allowing a shadow organization to swoop in and steal their thunder, which leaves us empty and feeling like the trilogy ultimately has no payoff.
In theaters now, director M. Night Shyamalan's Glass stars James McAvoy as Kevin Wendell Crumb/The Beast, Bruce Willis as David Dunn, Anya Taylor-Joy as Casey Cooke, Samuel L. Jackson as Elijah Price/Mr. Glass and Sarah Paulson as Ellie Staple.