As I said recently, it’s never too late to make a sequel. One of the movies to cemented writer-director M. Night Shyamalan as an auteur in the early 2000s was Unbreakable, a spin on the Superhero origin, told in a refreshing, unique way. Now, nineteen years later we’ve been given the second movie and here is the finale.
Spoiler warning ahead for those that have yet to see Unbreakable or Split.
Basically, people are born with Superpowers, like the X-Men they re just born and they have special abilities, strength, speed, agility etc. But they are somewhat subtle and very few people are even aware that these people exist or that they themselves even possess powers. But they exist and some are aware of their unique nature and use them.
James MacAvoy is the man with over twenty-three different split personalities within him (they call themselves The Horde), some of them only have a few lines while others return more frequently, the one to pay attention to is “The Beast” one of great strength and agility. Samuel L. Jackson is Elijah Prince, a genius who suffers from a condition that renders his bones extremely brittle and easy to break, which earned him the nickname “Mr. Glass” which he also adopted as his villain alter ego and the title for this movie, however he is also a mastermind with intelligence that is beyond exceptional. Bruce Willis is back as David Dunn the unbreakable man who early on in the movie the press have titled “The Observer” he cannot be injured, has exceptional strength and can even read peoples sins by touching them, however, he has a weakness, water. He doesn’t really have much to do in this movie beyond looking sad and standing stoically.
Each of them come with their own supporting character. Dunn has his son Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark) that has supported him in his vigilante career since first discovering them and provides him intelligence via headset. Elijah has his loving mother (Charlayne Woodard) that has always believed he was special and had a big destiny. Then there’s Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy), the kidnap victim of The Horde from Split but is more fascinated and sympathetic to the man with all the different personalities within his head.
Due to his actions that are revealed at the end of Unbreakable Elijah has been placed in a psychiatric hospital for the past nineteen years. But while The Beast is about to make victims out of a group of young girls a battle breaks out between him and Dunn whose been patrolling the streets keeping the neighborhood safe, it’s to a standstill because they are taken in by a Doctor Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulsen), that takes them to the same clinic Elijah has been residing in.
Now all three of them are in the same mental hospital and the doctor is convinced that they all suffer from a type of delusion of grandeur and their feats of superpowers can be logically explained away. I didn’t buy it for one second, I’d seen the previous two movies, I’d seen the trailer where they clearly display inhuman abilities so these scenes didn’t work, nor do I think they’d really work on anyone else. Even for someone that hasn’t seen the previous two movies or the trailer we already see feats of strength that are beyond human abilities, so this section just doesn’t work.
Shamalyan has taken one of the most infamous career dives in history, when he started he was considered to be one of the most exciting writer/directors working in the industry, but eventually, he started turning out obvious, nonsensical and clearly indulgent products. Recently with the movie The Visit and previously Split he seems to be getting back on track. I don’t rate either of the two previously mentioned movies very highly but they were definitely much more solid than his previous outings.
This movie is filled with “smart” characters, characters that have high I.Q. but in this, you must ask the question “Can a writer write a character smarter than themselves?” A writer can write dialog that can be reasearched and have the character know all this information off the top of their heads but what about the way they use it? If it doesnt work in the movies logic or even in any logic then it doesnt matter and you see the failing of the writer because they’ve created an equation that doesnt add up. Another faily is that the reaveals are portrayed as great feats so there is a lack of modesty which sours the expereice because you dont buy it while the filmmaker is bigging themselves up.
One of the most mind-boggling elements of the movie that you have to swallow is that comic book in of themselves tell the stories of these super people. How exactly I’m not really sure, it’s is never explained. Do the creators know deep down about the existence of these super people? I that their power? Is it something about the medium itself that prophesies them?
The movie is undeniably unpredictable. There is the classic twist that Shamalyan is known for and it’s a pretty good one here, and it gets near the end and it’s not done with it’s reveals, this is a movie that has a whole plot to fill it, instead of relying on the action. However, while I was surprised during it I wasn’t awed. Unpredictable does not equal good, there I was watching the fate of these characters, some of which have existed for nearly twenty years and it was just disappointing. All I really felt was that I didnt see it coming and even if I did I didnt like it.
As an alternative flavor for the abundance of Superhero movies we have to choose from these days this movie is anything but paint by numbers, as the conclusion to a movie that started in 1996 and we have been waiting for for over twenty years it pulls some things that are just a let down, as an analysis of myth, comic books and society itself it thinks it’s profound while just being complicated. Though, like an M. Knight Shamalyan movie, this is probably his best movie since…well since Unbreakable. Starting with The Visit he has slowly reassembled himself as a filmmaker and credit has to be given to progress.