For the first phase of his career, director M. Night Shyamalan could pretty much do no wrong, dazzling audiences with twist-filled work such as "The Sixth Sense," "Unbreakable" and "Signs."
For the latter half of his career, he could almost do no right, cranking out facepalm-inducing dreck such as "The Village," "Lady in the Water" and "The Last Airbender."
Then came "Split" in 2017, which went a long way toward revitalizing the old Shayamalan mystique, particularly for the way it linked to Shyamalan's "Unbreakable" glory days. The prospect of the sequel, "Glass," which tied together characters from all three films, seemed like it had the potential to vault Shyamalan back to the good graces of movie fandom.
Twist ending: It doesn't.
Displaying teasing qualities of his best work and harrowing reminders of his worst, "Glass" works as a metaphor for the uneven summation of Shyamalan's career thus far. Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson and James McAvoy gather for an often spirited but ultimately frustrating superhero/villain romp. Ridden with plot holes, delirious non sequiturs and insipid cliches, the film fails to conquer its profound ambitions.
The setup brings back the hero and villain of "Unbreakable" -- Willis as steel-bending vigilante David Dunn, and Jackson as criminal mastermind Elijah Glass -- combined with multiple-personalities serial killer played by McAvoy.
All three end up under the psychiatric care of Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson), who is determined to prove that all three are delusional rather than gifted.
Pyschological warfare and power games make up the bulk of the conflict, disappointingly stalling the action for much of the running time. Once things pick up, the action comes off as more ridiculous than involving. You find yourself clinging to Willis, whose burned out, frustrated demeanor is all too easy to sympathize with.
The film is at its best as the credits approach. The director, whose trademark is the twist ending, comes through with a satisfying finale that goes a considerable distance toward redeeming the entire film, and in turn, the series.
Despite the clever wrap-up, you're left with the gnawing feeling that Shyamalan would have been better off had he left the "Unbreakable" mythos stand alone and branched off to different stories. Momentum can be as fragile as glass, and the cracks are all too apparent in this trilogy.
RATING: 2 stars out of 4.