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"Glass”

Universal Pictures

Directed by M. Night Shyamalan

Starring Bruce Willis, James McAvoy, Samuel L. Jackson, Sarah Paulson and Anya Taylor-Joy

Rated PG-13

 

2 Stars

 

In the new movie, “Glass,” director M. Night Shyamalan takes a second look at a few of the characters from his previous films. His stated purpose with this movie is to create a grand showdown between good and evil, but he ultimately ends up with a hit-and-miss affair that never quite gels. It certainly doesn’t achieve much in the way of effective commentary regarding comic book-inspired super heroes and their villainous counterparts.

Still, the nostalgia factor is turned up on high as we catch up with David (Bruce Willis) the hero from “Unbreakable.” He now spends his days roaming the streets as a sad-sack vigilante sometimes known as “The Overseer.” The proper story begins when he runs up against Kevin (James McAvoy), the schizophrenic villain from last year’s movie, “Split.”

Their fight lands them both in an insane asylum, where a psychiatrist (Sarah Paulson) is studying their delusions. It also puts them in contact with Elijah (Samuel L. Jackson), the brilliant-but-brittle man who has been locked up ever since the events of “Unbreakable.”

Shyamalan is adept at wringing tension out of the conflict between these characters. Elijah, aka “Mr., Glass” teams up with Kevin’s “Beast” personality to escape the asylum. It’s up to David to stop them before they spread mayhem to the streets of Philadelphia.

On the surface, it’s a simple matter of a good guy trying to stop the baddies. Shyamalan offers up some half-hearted themes about the interdependency of heroes and villains, but he’s not really breaking any new ground here. In fact, he’s already gone over much of this in his far-superior earlier film, “Unbreakable.” You’ll probably be better-served re-watching that old film at home, rather than coughing up the money to see “Glass.”

To be fair, it’s not a complete mess. I’m always down to watch Bruce Willis playing a reluctant hero, and Samuel L. Jackson continues to be one of the most charismatic actors working today. James McAvoy turns in another tour de force performance, playing the 24 different personalities trapped inside his head. He is very good at distinctly bringing each of these personalities to life.

Mix that in with Shyamalan’s considerable directorial abilities, and you have an okay film that will certainly appeal to some fans. The problem is that his dissection to the nature of comic book superheroes isn’t very compelling at the universal gut level. This is a cerebral exercise that seldom excites the blood, leaving us with an occasionally tedious two-hour drama that doesn’t go anywhere.

It turns out that superheroes and mega-villains in court-mandated therapy simply isn’t enough to make a compelling drama.

Movie reviews by Sean, “The Movie Guy,” are each week in “The Port Arthur News” and seen weekly on KFDM and Fox 4. Sean welcomes your comments via email at smcbride@sbgtv.com.