“I understand that you think you are superheroes from comic books. If superheroes exist, why are there only three of you?” asks psychiatrist Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson). She’s talking to David Dunn, aka “The Overseer” (Bruce Willis), Kevin Crumb, aka “The Beast” (James McAvoy), and Elijah Price, aka “Mr. Glass” (Samuel L. Jackson). They are incarcerated in Raven Hill Psychiatric Hospital, Philadelphia. Her job, says Dr. Staple, is to convince them that they do not possess superhuman powers. That’s the setup for M. Night Shyamalan’s “Glass,” sequel to his “Unbreakable” (2000) and “Split” (2017).
Should you see “Unbreakable” and “Split” before watching “Glass”? Probably. Can you follow “Glass” and its muddled plot? I couldn’t. Do I recommend “Glass”? Not much.
James McAvoy is over-the-top as Kevin Wendell Crumb. Diagnosed DID (dissociative identity disorder), Kevin has 20 separate personalities, including “The Beast” — homicidal half-animal and half-human supervillain. All 20 are his own creations, Dr. Staple tells him, “not coming to you from some mystical source.” Dr. Staple similarly diagnoses Bruce Willis’s underplayed “Overseer” and Samuel L. Jackson’s silent and enigmatic “Mr. Glass.” “You are creating these disorders,” says Dr. Staple. As Dr. Ellie Staple, Sarah Paulson plays an academic, a one-note character.
Others in the cast include Charlayne Wood as Mrs. Price, Elijah’s soft-spoken and protective mother, and Spencer Treat Clark as Joseph, David Dunn’s adult son. Both actors are reprising roles they played 19 years ago in “Unbreakable.” Anya Taylor-Joy is Casey Cooke, abducted but surviving victim of Kevin Crumb’s “The Beast.” Luke Kirby, Adam David Thompson and M. Knight Shyamalan are hospital security guards, Pierce, Daryl and Jai.
“Glass” is the story of three extraordinary men who possess superhuman powers or, if Dr. Ellie Staple’s diagnoses are correct, it’s about three psychotic men who think they possess such powers. Writer/director M. Knight Shyamalan says of his film, “Basically, we’re asking the question, could comic books be based on reality?” Or, to put the question another way: “Are superheroes real?” I think Shyamalan’s answer (not a spoiler) is yes, but his movie is such a muddle that, I confess, I could be wrong. If these are burning questions, see “Glass.” Otherwise, you could miss it.
Rated PG-13 for bloody images, thematic elements and language, “Glass” runs 129 minutes. Let Shyamalan have the last word: “It’s a conversation,” he says, “about the meta-culture of comic books and why it’s an obsession.”
“Glass” has got a muddled plot;
Entertaining? Not a lot;
If you go, here’s the deal —
Ask, “Superheroes, are they real?”