Everything You Need To Know About 'Glass', M Night Shyamalan's Surprise Sequel
Of all of infamous director M Night Shyamalan’s films, 'Unbreakable' is the one you might have once guessed was the least likely to get a sequel.
After all, although it’s since become a cult phenomenon, Unbreakable was first released to a lukewarm response. Hitting cinemas in 2000, a little under 12 months after Shyamalan’s critical and commercial megahit The Sixth Sense terrified and entranced audiences, most critics saw it as a step backwards. Audiences felt largely the same way: while Sixth Sense made a whopping US$672 million, Unbreakable barely broke even, scraping to US$95 million at the American box office.
And yet here we are, some 19 years after Unbreakable’s release, and a second sequel is just about to hit cinemas. Glass, releasing in Australia on Thursday January 17, is the final instalment in a trilogy that was kicked off almost two decades ago by Unbreakable, and continued by 2016’s secret sequel, Split.
Across these three wildly different films, Shyamalan has built his own mini world of superheroes, villains and monsters. And, taking his cue from Marvel’s sadly-departed Stan Lee, Shyamalan has made that world mind-bogglingly complex. The Unbreakable films are a mess of backstories, ever-altering motivations, and shady, morally grey antagonists.
Which is potentially bad news for casual viewers of the series: in a recent interview with Digital Spy, Shyamalan revealed that Glass doesn’t “rehash” the plots of the first two films.
So, if it’s been a while since you’ve seen Unbreakable or Split -- or if you’ve never seen them at all -- let’s get you up to speed. Oh, and be warned: spoilers for both films follow.
What’s The Deal With Unbreakable?
The hero of Unbreakable and Glass is David Dunn, played by the iron-jawed Bruce Willis. A one-time pro-athlete turned security guard, Dunn miraculously emerges from a devastating train accident totally unharmed.
Things only get stranger when, after the accident, Dunn realises he now has superhuman powers – upon coming into physical contact with people, Dunn can see the crimes they have committed, making him a perfect do-gooder.
Dunn is guided along his hero’s path by the wheelchair-bound Elijah Price (Samuel L Jackson), a comic book obsessive who believes Dunn is the real-life version of the superheroes he pores over. But, in a very Shyamalan-esque twist, at the end of Unbreakable, it’s revealed that Price isn’t Dunn’s kind-hearted mentor, but in fact the film’s true villain.
Taking on the eerie moniker Mr Glass, Price reveals that he was the one who engineered the train accident that helped Dunn discover his powers. All good heroes need a villain, and Mr Glass wants to be exactly that: the Joker to Dunn’s Batman.
Horrified by the knowledge of what Glass has done, Dunn reports him to the police, and has him locked up. But, if the trailer for Glass is anything to go by, it looks like not even a jail cell is able to contain the supervillain…
What’s The Deal With Split?
For most of its running time, Split seems to have nothing to do with Unbreakable. Instead, it’s the story of Kevin (James McAvoy), a deranged murderer who suffers from multiple personality disorder. A mess of warring personalities, including a horrifying, dormant personality known only as The Beast, Kevin kidnaps a trio of young girls, including the withdrawn and shy Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy), keeping them locked up in his basement.
But Casey is more capable than she looks. While her friends are picked off by Kevin, Casey continues to outwit him, eventually breaking free of his prison and running to the police, just as he transforms into the superhuman Beast.
Then, suddenly, we cut to a diner, where a crowd anxiously watches a news bulletin about Casey’s miraculous escape. And among the whispering onlookers sits David Dunn, neatly revealing that Unbreakable and Split exist in the same shared universe.
So What’s The Deal With Glass?
At this stage, Glass’ plot is under tight wraps: aside from Shyamalan calling it one of the hardest projects he’s ever had to shoot, not much is known about the film’s twists and turns.
At least the trailers give us some clues. In them, it’s revealed that Glass, Kevin, and Dunn all end up in the same place: a mental institution designed for people who believe that they’re superheroes.
Which is ludicrous, of course. But Shyamalan’s films have always worked best when they embrace their cheesiness. Shyamalan isn’t a nuanced, subtle filmmaker: he’s a man who is having the most fun when he’s pitting zany character against zany character, creating an utterly bug nuts, heightened world in the process.
And from all we’ve seen so far, Glass looks like Shyamalan’s most entertaining effort yet.