A Film and TV Review by Tim Riley
“GLASS” Rated PGWriter and director M. Night Shyamalan might be a polarizing filmmaker in that his body of work engenders a range of emotions, pro and con. “Glass” is certain to draw mixed reactions from audiences to prove the point. The hardcore fans of Shyamalan’s films will tout “Unbreakable” as one of his masterpieces, along with films like “The Sixth Sense” and “Signs.” Those same folks are more likely all in for “Glass.” Remembering “Unbreakable,” released almost two decades ago, is essential to understanding “Glass,” and the most recent “Split” fits into the equation as well. Both previous films provide key characters that complete an arguably botched trilogy.
Returning from the first film are Bruce Willis’ David Dunn, lone survivor of a train wreck, and Samuel L. Jackson’s Elijah Price, otherwise known as Mr. Glass given his brittle bones that shatter as easily as a porcelain dish. In the present, David Dunn, who sells home security devices, roams the streets of Philadelphia as a vigilante fighting crime. He has an ability to divine a person’s criminal bent by merely brushing up against someone. His supernatural power is backed up by physical attributes.
Meanwhile, James McAvoy’s Kevin Wendell Crumb, established in “Split,” suffers from dissociative identity disorder. The multiple identities that reside with him include The Beast, a fearsome creature that has imprisoned four teenage girls in an abandoned warehouse. Wandering around in a hooded poncho, Dunn pursues the superhuman figure of The Beast in a series of escalating encounters that result in a fierce showdown that ends up with both men being captured and detained at the Raven Hill Psychiatric Hospital.
Confined like prisoners, they come under the forced care of Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson), who specializes in treating a specific type of delusion of grandeur, namely people who believe they are comic-book characters. Kevin Crumb is the most puzzling character because he has about two dozen personalities, including a nine-year-old boy, a matronly British woman, and a sexual predator. A long time patient of Raven Hill, Elijah Price now rests permanently in a wheelchair and is so heavily sedated that most of the time he just stares off into space, a shell of his former self. Eventually, all three men are engaged in a battle of wills. For his part, Price awakens from his stupor and engages his brilliant mind to wreak havoc on the hospital’s surveillance system to plot an escape.
As is his wont, Shyamalan contrives a scenario that focuses on the grand opening of the tallest new building in the City of Brotherly Love. The ensuing climactic battle falls far short of expectations.The best thing about “Glass” is McAvoy’s frenetic portrayal of a wildly unpredictable and frightening individual. The rest of the film is a slog through a jumbled mess of disappointments. “Glass” shatters upon closer scrutiny.
An adaptation of the best-selling trilogy by author Justin Cronin, “The Passage” focuses on Project Noah, a secret medical facility in Colorado where scientists are experimenting with a dangerous virus that could lead to the cure for all diseases. But, of course, we know that tinkering with hazardous medical procedures could have a bad outcome, particularly when the opening gambit is an expedition into the Bolivian highlands to find a man supposedly 250 years old who turns out to be a vampire.
The most interesting thing about “The Passage” is the relationship that develops between 10-year-old Amy (Saniyya Sidney), an orphan chosen to be a test subject, and Federal agent Brad Wolgast (Mark-Paul Gosselaar), who is tasked with delivering her to Project Noah. The tone of this series is set by Amy’s narration. In the early going she notes that she didn’t use to believe in monsters but has changed her opinion. Her declaration that this “is how the world ends” provides an emotional hook to get involved with the series.
On the trek from Memphis to Colorado, Agent Wolgast, troubled by the death of his own daughter and the dissolution of his marriage, ditches the mission and becomes in essence Amy’s surrogate father.They both go on the lam, dodging shootouts and high-speed car chases before seeking refuge at a Wisconsin farmhouse. Their safety turns out to be very elusive during an intensive manhunt. Meanwhile, terrible things are happening at Project Noah where death row inmates have become guinea pigs in experiments that are not working out as planned. Dr. Fanning (Jamie McShane), infected in Bolivia, has become Patient Zero. Fanning and other test subjects, including Shauna Babcock (Brianne Howey), manage to plant themselves into the nightmares of the project’s staff, demonstrating a power beyond the typical vampire neck bites.
While the lead researcher, Dr. Jonas Lear (Henry Ian Cusick), begins to harbor ethical doubts and others get queasy, internal conflicts that could get interesting loom on the horizon.The best reason to watch “The Passage” is the chemistry between Saniyya Sidney and Mark-Paul Gosselaar. We root for their survival.