M. Night Shyamalan’s “Glass,” the third film in his “Unbreakable” series, which merges the story lines created in the first two movies, “Unbreakable” and “Split,” was released in theaters last week.
The series has spanned the course of 19 years in real time, as well as canonically, as the first installment, “Unbreakable,” was released in 2000. The real-world aging of the characters adds a certain depth to the film that would be difficult to manufacture.
Bruce Willis plays David Dunn, the protagonist of the film, and the 19 years between the release of “Unbreakable” and “Glass” have added a definite maturity to his face – the real shock to fans of “Unbreakable” is the way Joseph Dunn, played by Spenser Treat Clark, has grown.
The child actor returns to the series as a young adult, and his personal growth grounds the series in a sense of reality which costumes and makeup could never reproduce.
Before seeing the trailer for “Glass,” I had no idea “Unbreakable” or “Split” weren’t stand-alone movies, which speaks to the completeness of their plots. Both preceding movies had very “M. Night Shyamalan- esque” twist endings which are notoriously controversial in terms of their appeal to audiences.
One benefit of “Glass” is that it has both “Unbreakable” and “Split” to lean on for background information, so of the three movies, it has the steadiest build to a climax. I felt more prepared for the ending of “Glass” than I did for the endings of the other two.
I even forgot this was an M. Night Shyamalan film, because the movie didn’t have any of the jarring plot twists which Shyamalan fans have come to expect.
“Split” garnered a lot criticism from mental health advocates upon its release in 2016 for potentially stigmatizing Dissociative Identity Disorder, from which the antagonist suffers.
I believe “Glass” works to reduce this stigma by emphasizing that the antagonist is destructive because of his superhuman abilities rather than his disorder. This shift feels like a responsible step in the right direction.
The “Unbreakable” trilogy is inarguably a superhero movie which appeals to fans of more classic movies within the fantasy genre, but its unusual structure makes it appealing even to those who ordinarily dislike superhero films.
Both my roommate (who loves superhero films) and one of my best friends (who has never enjoyed the fantasy genre in general) loved “Glass” and have independently commented on how well made the film is.
Overall, I think “Glass” is an incredibly satisfying end to the series, and while I would absolutely recommend any viewer watch both “Unbreakable” and “Split” first for context, it stands out as a film with appeal for a wide range of audiences.