Glass (2019 film)
Glass is a 2019 American superhero thriller film written, produced, and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. The film is a sequel to Shyamalan's previous films Unbreakable (2000) and Split (2016), serving as the final installment in the Unbreakable trilogy. Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Spencer Treat Clark, and Charlayne Woodard reprise their Unbreakable roles, while James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy return as their Split characters, with Sarah Paulson, Adam David Thompson, and Luke Kirby joining the cast. In the film, David Dunn becomes locked in a mental hospital alongside his archenemy Mr. Glass, as well as the multi-personality "The Horde," and must contend with a psychiatrist who is out to prove the trio do not actually possess super-human abilities.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||M. Night Shyamalan|
|Written by||M. Night Shyamalan|
|Music by||West Dylan Thordson|
|Box office||$235.7 million|
Despite interest in a sequel to Unbreakable following its release, Touchstone Pictures opted not to finance one. Shyamalan set out to write Split using a character he had written for Unbreakable but pulled from its script due to balance issues. Shyamalan realized the opportunity he had to create a trilogy of works, and used the ending of Split to establish the film as within the Unbreakable narrative. This included securing the rights to use Willis's Unbreakable character from Walt Disney Studios, with the promise of including Disney within the production and distribution of this third film alongside Universal Pictures. Split was a financial and critical success, and by April 2017, Shyamalan announced that he started the production process for Glass.
The film was released on January 18, 2019, by Universal Pictures in the United States and by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, under the Buena Vista International label, in international territories. It has grossed over $235 million worldwide, against a $20 million production budget, making it the second highest-grossing film of 2019. Glass has received "generally unfavorable reviews", with critics finding the film "disappointing" and "underwhelming".
It has been three weeks after an infamous crime spree by super villain Kevin Wendell Crumb, who the press had nicknamed "The Horde".[N 1] Vigilante superhero David Dunn and his now-grown son Joseph, who have been working together to take down criminals as "The Overseer", set out to save four cheerleaders Crumb has abducted. Crumb’s malignant psychopathic psyche is on the verge of cannibalistically feeding upon his captives until David comes across Kevin, whose alter ego, "Hedwig," is in control. Discerning the cheerleaders' location using his extrasensory perception, David frees the cheerleaders but is attacked by Kevin's superhuman alter ego, "the Beast". Their ensuing fight reaches outside the warehouses on public streets, where seemingly a specialised branch of the Philadelphia Police Department, led by Dr. Ellie Staple, activate a machine that flashes a set of hypnotic lights, forcing “The Beast” to switch identities. Staple convinces David to surrender, and both David and Kevin are arrested.
David and Kevin are sent to a mental institution for the criminally insane where Elijah Price is being held, David's sworn arch enemy known as "Mr. Glass". Staple, the head doctor of the mental institution, states that she specialises in working with patients who claim to have special powers, and that she has been given three days to persuade David, Kevin, and Elijah that they are "normal" people who simply believe they have super powers. Staple also knows that David's alleged weakness is water, and has the same machine that forces the Horde to switch identities installed in Kevin’s room, automatically activating whenever hostility is detected, effectively disarming the Beast.
Joseph, Mrs. Price, and Casey Cooke (who survived an attack from the Beast) all visit at separate times in an attempt to aid their associates, but ultimately fail. As part of her final evaluation, Staple puts the three patients in one room and begins to slowly chip away at David and the Horde's belief in their abilities as being supernatural or super human. Though Elijah has been heavily sedated throughout his stay, Staple reveals that his own MRI results show irregularities in the frontal lobe of his brain, which she believes could explain his obsession with proving the existence of super-powered humans.
The evaluation attracts Elijah, (who has been discreetly swapping out his medication with aspirin and faking his sedated state), to the Beast. That night, Elijah breaks into the Horde's cell to prepare them for the Beast's awakening, but is captured and has laser surgery performed on his brain to lobotomize him. However, Elijah had anticipated this and had previously sabotaged the surgical laser, causing it to have no effect on him; he escapes captivity by slitting an orderly’s throat, and sets off to awaken the Beast. Elijah convinces the Beast to battle David during the public unveiling of the city's new highest tower to revive the Horde's faith and reveal the existence of superhumans to the world, before turning his attention to David and forcing him to accept the truth of his superhuman abilities to escape, lest Elijah destroy the tower in place of the showdown. David, Kevin and Elijah are all able to escape from the hospital. David and the Beast face off again outside of the hospital and are evenly matched until Staple intervenes. Staple orders her team of Philadelphia Police Department officers to subdue each of the superhumans, but David and the Beast fend them off.
Elijah informs the Beast that David's mortal weakness is water, but Joseph intervenes and reveals to the Beast Elijah orchestrated the train crash that killed Kevin's father, the same train crash that Elijah caused to find David.[N 2] After Kevin's father died, his abusive mother began torturing him, thus leading to the creation of The Beast and his other dissociative identities. The Beast thanks Elijah for creating him, but because his purpose is to protect Kevin, the Beast mortally wounds Elijah and throws David into a water tank and begins to strangle him. David summons enough strength to escape, but is critically weakened by the water. The Beast retreats and promises to finish him off at the tower. However, Casey confronts the Beast before he can escape and summons the real Kevin to take control by speaking his full name. Without the Beast's superhuman strength and durability to protect him, Staple orders an officer to shoot Kevin. Kevin is granted full custody of “The Light” by his other personallities, and dies in Casey's arms.
Staple's men then overpower the weakened David and drown him in a flooded pothole. Staple lets David touch her as he dies, granting him a vision of her being covertly part of a clandestine society that covers up the existence of superhuman beings from the rest of the world. Staple tells him that if she had successfully brainwashed him into thinking he was normal, she would have left him alone, but the Beast ruined that and she will now resort to murder in order to silence him. As Elijah finally dies of his wounds, Staple reveals to him a global conspiracy that has masterminded the suppression, pacification and genocide of superhuman heroes and villains for over 10,000 years in order to protect modern civilization from what they fear would become the tyranny of living "gods" over "men." With Elijah, Kevin and David dead, Staple deletes the security footage and reports her mission as a success.
Unbeknownst to Staple, the cameras around the mental institution had previously been hacked by Elijah and had been live-streaming to a private network. Shortly thereafter, Mrs. Price, Joseph and Casey all receive a copy of the footage, and choose to release it online, bringing the existence of superhumans to the awareness of the public.
- James McAvoy as Kevin Wendell Crumb / The Horde: A former Philadelphia Zoo employee with 23 different personalities whose body chemistry changes with each personality, resulting in a 24th personality known as "The Beast.", a savage superhuman cannibal whose abilities include superhuman strength, speed, durability, and agility. Kevin's personalities also include Jade (a teenage girl), Orwell (a historian), Barry (an effeminate man), Patricia (a proper British woman), Hedwig (a nine-year-old boy), Ian and Mary Reynolds (Irish twins), Dennis (a perverted man suffering from OCD), Norma (a Southern woman), Luke (a Southern man who spoils movies), and Mr. Pritchard (a professor of Japanese cinema).
- Bruce Willis as David Dunn / The Overseer: An indestructible security guard with superhuman strength and stamina, as well as an extrasensory ability to see the crimes people have committed by touching them. In the film, Dunn goes by a new alias, "The Overseer".
- Samuel L. Jackson as Elijah Price / Mr. Glass: A superhumanly intelligent mass murderer and comic book theorist with Type I osteogenesis imperfecta, who was institutionalized after Dunn discovered his crimes.
- Sarah Paulson as Dr. Ellie Staple: A psychiatrist specializing in delusions of grandeur who treats patients convinced they are superhuman beings.
- Anya Taylor-Joy as Casey Cooke: A teenage girl with a history of abuse who was kidnapped by one of Kevin's personalities as a potential sacrifice to "The Beast" but managed to survive.
- Spencer Treat Clark as Joseph Dunn: David's son who has believed in his father's abilities since he was a child and sees him as a real-life superhero.
- Charlayne Woodard as Mrs. Price: Elijah's mother, who took great care of her son, and always told him he was special no matter what others said.
- Adam David Thompson as Daryl, an employee at the psych ward.
- Luke Kirby as Pierce, one of Mr. Glass's caretakers at the facility.
M. Night Shyamalan reprises his cameo role of Jai, the security guard from Dr. Fletcher's apartment building in Split, who confesses to David Dunn that he was also the same man he confronted about selling drugs at the university stadium in Unbreakable.
After Unbreakable's release in 2000, rumors of possible sequels began circulating in different interviews and in film fansites. In 2000, Bruce Willis was quoted as hoping for an Unbreakable trilogy. In December 2000, M. Night Shyamalan denied rumors he had written Unbreakable as the first installment of a trilogy. In August 2001, he stated that because of successful DVD sales, he had approached Touchstone Pictures about an Unbreakable sequel, an idea Shyamalan said the studio originally declined because of the film's disappointing box office performance.
In September 2008, Shyamalan and Samuel L. Jackson stated discussions about making a sequel had been largely abandoned in light of the disappointing box office returns. Jackson indicated he was still interested in a sequel, but Shyamalan remained noncommittal. In February 2010, Willis said that Shyamalan was "still thinking about doing the fight movie between me and Sam" and stated that as long as Jackson was able to participate, he would be "up for it."
Shyamalan continued to work on other films, releasing Split in 2016. Split's principal antagonist is Kevin Wendell Crumb, played by James McAvoy, a person suffering from dissociative identity disorder, that affects his body chemistry to such an extent that he adopts the mannerisms of each separate persona. One of these personalities is "The Beast", which drives Crumb's body into a feral superhuman state, guided by the desire to consume those who have not had a traumatic situation in their lives—those it does not consider "broken." Crumb had initially been written into the script for Unbreakable, but Shyamalan felt there were balancing issues with his inclusion and removed him from the story; Split was effectively rewritten from some of the scenes he had planned for Crumb expanded out into a standalone picture.
The final scene for Split includes the appearance of David Dunn, played by Willis. Shyamalan included Dunn here to connect Split to Unbreakable, by showing Dunn learning about the escape of "The Beast" and thereby realizing that other superhumans exist, as predicted by Mr. Glass (Jackson). In 2017, Shyamalan stated although he hoped a third Unbreakable film would be made and already had an outline prepared, "I don't know what's going to happen when I go off in my room, a week after this film opens, to write the script."
Unbreakable had been produced under Touchstone, a subsidiary of Walt Disney Studios, while Split was produced through Universal Pictures. Shyamalan obtained permission from Disney to reuse the character of Dunn. He met with Walt Disney Studios president Sean Bailey and came to a gentlemen's agreement, whereby Bailey agreed to allow the use of the character in the film without a fee and Shyamalan promised that Disney would be involved in a sequel, if developed.
Split was met with critical and financial success and, in February 2017, Shyamalan affirmed his next film would be the third work in the trilogy. Shyamalan finished the script by April 2017, announcing that it would be called Glass and have a target release date of January 18, 2019. Universal was selected to distribute the film in the United States, while Disney distributes the film internationally through its Buena Vista International label.
The cast includes returning actors from both films: Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Spencer Treat Clark, and Charlayne Woodard from Unbreakable and James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy from Split, all reprise their respective roles, while Sarah Paulson plays a new character. In November 2017, Adam David Thompson joined the cast in an undisclosed role.
Principal photography began on October 2, 2017, in Philadelphia, following a week of rehearsals, with plans for a thirty-nine–day shoot. On October 31, 2017, it was reported that Shyamalan would be filming at Allentown State Hospital for a few weeks. On December 12, 2017, Shyamalan revealed that four scenes would be shot in January 2018, stating he would have to travel for their filming. On February 16, 2018, a scene was filmed at the Bryn Mawr College athletic center. Deleted scenes from Unbreakable were used as flashback sequences.
West Dylan Thordson returned to score the film after his collaboration with the director on Split. He used themes from the score of Unbreakable by James Newton Howard, alongside that of Split, in composing Glass's music. The score is distributed digitally by Back Lot Music.
On April 25, 2018, the film was featured at CinemaCon, with Shyamalan in attendance. He presented footage from the film, along with the first official image, featuring Willis, Jackson and McAvoy in character. He also expressed his intention for the film, saying, "The worlds of Unbreakable and Split finally collide in Glass. What if these real life superheroes and super-villains are somehow locked up together? What could go wrong?" He considered it to be the "first truly grounded comic book movie."
On July 12, 2018, the first official photographs from production were released publicly, including shots of Samuel L. Jackson, Sarah Paulson, and James McAvoy. On July 20, 2018, the film was promoted at San Diego Comic-Con, with Shyamalan, Willis, Jackson, Taylor-Joy and Paulson attending a panel, where the film's first trailer premiered.
Glass was theatrically released on January 18, 2019, in the United States and Canada by Universal Pictures and in international territories by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, through their Buena Vista International label. The first screening for Glass occurred on January 12, 2019, at 25 Alamo Drafthouse Cinema locations.
As of February 18, 2019[update], Glass has grossed $105.3 million in the United States and Canada, and $130.5 million in other territories, for a total worldwide gross of $235.7 million, against a production budget of $20 million.
In the United States and Canada, Glass was projected to make $50–75 million from 3,841 theaters over its four-day MLK Day opening weekend. It made $16 million on its first day, including $3.7 million from Thursday night previews, the highest amount of Shyamalan's career. It went on to gross $40.5 million in its opening weekend, and $46.5 million over the four days. Although coming in at the low-end of projections, the film topped the box office and marked the third-best total for Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend and of Shyamalan's career. In its second weekend the film fell 53% to $19 million (a steeper drop than Split's 35%), retaining the top spot at the box office. The film then finished first for a third straight weekend, grossing $9.5 million, before finally being dethroned in its fourth weekend, grossing $6.3 million and finishing fifth.
Internationally, the film was expected to gross $45–50 million in its first weekend, for a total of global opening of $105–120 million. It ended up making $48.5 million from international markets, and had a global opening of $89.1 million. It finished first in most markets, while its highest-grossing countries were Russia ($5.2 million), Mexico ($4.5 million, the best-ever for a Shyamalan film), the United Kingdom ($4.3 million), France ($3.4 million) and South Korea ($2.8 million).
Critics gave Glass "generally unfavorable reviews". On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 37% based on 328 reviews, with an average rating of 5.1/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Glass displays a few glimmers of M. Night Shyamalan at his twisty world-building best, but ultimately disappoints as the conclusion to the writer-director's long-gestating trilogy." On Metacritic, which assigns normalized ratings to reviews, the film has a weighted average score of 42 out of 100, based on 51 critics, summarizing its sample as "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale, down from Split's "B+" but up from Unbreakable's "C", while those at PostTrak gave it an overall positive score of 70% and a "definite recommend" of 49%.
David Ehrlich of IndieWire gave the film a "C−" and called it the biggest disappointment of Shyamalan's career: "The trouble with Glass isn't that its creator sees his own reflection at every turn, or that he goes so far out of his way to contort the film into a clear parable for the many stages of his turbulent career; the trouble with Glass is that its mildly intriguing meta-textual narrative is so much richer and more compelling than the asinine story that Shyamalan tells on its surface." Writing for Rolling Stone, David Fear gave the film three out of five stars: "Glass is not the flaming flop some folks have already suggested it is, nor is it the movie you want in terms of tying ambitious, highfalutin notions together about how we process our pulp mythos. In a world in which all movies are now either genocide or ice cream, it's a grand gesture characterized by a sense of ambivalence about what you've just seen—which may in and of itself be a sign of failure." Laura Di Girolamo of Exclaim! scored the film six out of 10: "by virtue of being a followup to two films that have very little to do with each other, Glass struggles the most when it tries to be an effective finale to a trilogy we never realized was one."
Owen Gleiberman of Variety wrote: "It's good to see Shyamalan back (to a degree) in form, to the extent that he's recovered his basic mojo as a yarn spinner. But Glass occupies us without haunting us; it's more busy than it is stirring or exciting. Maybe that's because revisiting this material feels a touch opportunistic, and maybe it's because the deluge of comic-book movies that now threatens to engulf us on a daily basis has leeched what's left of the mystery out of comics." Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times called the film "an underwhelming, half-baked, slightly sour and even off-putting finale". Joshua Rivera of GQ magazine stated: "The timeline is barely comprehensible, with twists so openly telegraphed they'd have saved the Titanic." 
David Sims of The Atlantic compared the film to Batman Returns and Incredibles 2: "I appreciate the sheer brashness of Shyamalan’s storytelling, which swirls the mythmaking inherent in characters such as David with the emotional scars borne by orphaned characters such as Superman." Also praise was reserved for McAvoy who "once again [was] top notch" and "lit up the screen with his eerie physicality every time he appears".
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