It’s been nineteen years since David Dunn was the sole survivor of the crash of Eastrail 177, an event which brought him to the attention of Elijah Price, the man who called himself “Mister Glass.” Since that time, Dunn has managed to operate on the streets of Philadelphia keeping a low profile, a folk hero of near myth called “the Overseer” who protects those in need.

It’s been three weeks since Casey Cooke escaped from Kevin Wendell Crumb, a man whose intense dissociative identity disorder has manifested as twenty-four different personalities, leading to him being known as “the Horde.” Casey was lucky; four other girls were not, and the police are now hunting the streets without leads, hoping to find them before their inevitable deaths at the hands of one of Crumb’s less pleasant manifestations.

Incarcerated for the last two decades and medicated to the point of oblivion, Price is now held at Raven Hill Memorial Hospital, an institution where he has come to the attention of Doctor Ellie Staple who specialises in the treatment of a particular kind of monomania where the sufferer is convinced that they are a superhero out of a comic book, possessed of enormous power.

In order to prove her theories, she will attempt to bring these three people together, the Overseer, the Horde and Mister Glass, and from within them bring out David Dunn, Kevin Wendell Crumb and Elijah Price, banishing their alter-egos to the realm of fantasy and saving them from themselves, but she has underestimated the determination of Mister Glass to prove his own dominance and mastery of his fate.

A writer/director whose debut The Sixth Sense gave him a reputation for a surprise twist, M Night Shyamalan’s second feature, Unbreakable, was in fact a twist in itself, a movie inspired by and structured as a comic book origin story at a time when such things were deeply unfashionable and with no clue given to the audience that this was what they had paid to see, with Die Hard star Bruce Willis as David Dunn, a security guard who comes to realise that he has superhuman powers.

Shyamalan pulled that same trick again with Split, an undeclared stealth-sequel to Unbreakable which introduced Kevin Wendell Crumb (X-Men: Apocalypse‘s James McAvoy) and his almost-victim Casey (The Witch‘s Anya Taylor-Joy) who proved a match for his many faces, Dunn only appearing in a post-credit scene to recall the name Mister Glass, the supervillain mastermind whose manipulations sought to locate his nemesis.

Older and leaner, Willis returns to the role of Dunn after the long absence with assurance, a reminder that for all the brainless action movies he has made in the interim that when called upon he is still a fine character actor, and while McAvoy is perhaps not required to do anything more than he did in Split, that feat remains astonishing, seamlessly flipping between a dozen distinct characters, making each of them individual, sometimes endearing, frequently terrifying, always manipulative.

With Charlayne Woodard and The Town That Dreaded Sundown‘s Spencer Treat Clark also returning as Mrs Price and Dunn’s son Joseph, it is American Horror Story‘s Sarah Paulson who is the significant newcomer to the narrative as the arrogantly confident Doctor Staple, determined to demonstrate the evidence fits her theories regardless of the danger to the city and its inhabitants if she is mistaken.

Shyamalan continuing his artistic revival which began with Split after the celluloid atrocity of After Earth and the indifference of The Visit, Glass is a pure sequel rather than a standalone, requiring the audience to have knowledge of the characters and events leading up to this, though with the plans of Mister Glass (Kingsman‘s Samuel L Jackson) dependent on truly appalling lapses of security at the institution some leeway must be granted to suspension of disbelief.

An examination and deconstruction of the comic book movie genre, by keeping Glass close to the ground and personal Shyamalan raises the stakes without access to the budget or spectacle of an epic Marvel production, the Eastrail 177 trilogy arriving at a shattering conclusion and what could be a satisfying final destination while still leaving the option to transfer to another departure if the need arises.

Glass is currently on general release



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