M Night Shyamalan’s bitterly disappointing trilogy-capper is a flawed tribute to his love of horror, superheroes and his own work.
In grey Philadelphia we again meet Split’s Kevin (James McAvoy), a dangerous guy with some 24 personalities, one of which is the seemingly superhuman ‘The Beast’, a sub-supernatural figure which has required McAvoy to beef up at the gym to a distracting level. He’s somehow kidnapped four cheerleaders, and the fact that he’s a killer but we’re supposed to feel sorry for him (poor love!) is one of many problems here.
The exceptionally strong and sensitive David Dunn (Bruce Willis) of Shyamalan’s 2000 film Unbreakable returns, these days known as mythical goodie ‘The Overseer’. Clad in a green poncho, he’s been getting about doing small-time crime-fighting for years – but now he’s after Kevin. When the two finally meet they’re captured by goons in the employ of Dr Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) who works at Raven Hill Psychiatric Hospital, and has long been trying to convince the catatonic Elijah Price/Mr Glass (Samuel L Jackson) that he’s not actually a superhero. Although one look at Paulson’s pinched expressions and any fool can see that there’s much more to it than that.
Kevin, David and Elijah (however incapacitated) are all just itching to get free and start what’s obviously meant to be a mighty battle, so it’s extraordinary how flat and anticlimactic it all is when it eventually (at last!) happens. A selection of baffled supporting characters stand by, watching and commenting ominously. One of them is Split survivor Casey Cooke, as played once more by Anya Taylor-Joy, whose famously eerie eyes are much more striking than all the macho stars put together.
Sucking up to comic-book devotees while also mocking them viciously, it’s almost offensive on several levels but, in the end, simply proves too damn silly to take that seriously.
Shyamalan’s latest feature might also boast most bewildering and infuriating ending in recent mainstream cinema – an impressive feat even in the context of his own filmography. Shattering indeed.
Glass (M) is in cinemas from January 17