M. Night Shyamalan is a successful filmmaker, a modern-day Alfred Hitchcock in terms of a mainstream movie director working in a narrow range of genre (creepy, creep O. Henry) and getting screen time in their own joints. More importantly, Mr. Shyamalan is a successful low-budget filmmaker. His most famous and money-making film was The Sixth Sense, which according to boxofficemojo.com, cost $40 million and earned $672 million worldwide. He had hits and misses after that, but mostly misses, and the word now is that he bankrolls his own projects, so Mr. Night Shyamalan is back to making his movies on the cheap side. His previous film, Split, was made for $9 million and pulled in $270 million of worldwide box office.
Glass, the new movie, cost $20 million. It’s connected to Split, and if you didn’t see Split, you’ll definitely get the feeling you shoulda seen Split, but you’ll be OK.
There’s no way to talk about this premise without spoilering two previous movies, but that’s Shyamalan’s own doing. Twice before, he made movies where the Signature Twist was that the protagonist turned out to actually be a superhero or supervillain, and Glass is the full realization of the M. Night Shyamalan Superhero Universe, in which a trio of his previous supercharacters comes together. James McAvoy, whose 24 personalities worth of weirdness in Split included a bloodthirsty beast mode, is back, as is Samuel L. Jackson, the extremely non-unbreakable part of Unbreakable, who supplies the titular fragility and the saving grace of the movie, the entropic opposite of Mr. McAvoy’s scenery-chewing multiple maniac. So we have three dudes with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men, and a weirdo psychiatrist, played by Sarah Paulson and her big brown eyes, all sitting around in a psych ward discussing superheroes, as M. Night Shyamalan puts the movie-reality of comic book culture in a navel-gazing superhero nerd-twist pretzel-lock served up in his trademark low-budget Philadelphia, a superhoagie universe, if you will. And there’s some fighting.
Glass isn’t half empty or half full, it’s just half a glass, kind of a grubby glass, that looks like it needs to be cleaned. Could you at least wash the glass? Mister M. has shot nine of his motion pictures in and around Philadelphia, but maybe he could dig down for a few more bucks and make these movies look a little better. He’s not doing Philadelphia tourism any favors with these depressive grey-tinged locations.
The Bruce Willis is totally half-empty though, sheesh. He’s in Glass reprising his role from Unbreakable ($250 million box office vs. $75 budget), a guy so physically strong he can not be damaged, plus he haz psychic-empath abilities. Low-key Superman crossed with Christopher Walken’s Dead Zone guy. This is sort of a comeback for Mr. Willis, because he’s been cashing checks doing the crappiest movies lately. Is there even a category anymore for direct-to-DVD? Look at this IMDb list of phone-in mortgage-payment opportunities over the last three years:
- Air Strike (2018)
- Reprisal (2018)
- Death Wish (2018)
- Acts of Violence (2018)
- First Kill (2017)
- Once Upon a Time in Venice (2017)
- Split (2016)
- Marauders (2016)
- Precious Cargo (2016)
- Extraction (2015)
- Rock the Kasbah (2015)
- Vice (2015) Yes, not THAT Vice, although he woulda made for a good Karl Rove.
- The Prince (2014)