It took me a few years to finally catch up with this complete trilogy, and it took a global pandemic to allow me the time to watch them all in order.
The Unbreakable Trilogy, also known as the Eastrail 177 Trilogy — Comprises of Unbreakable (2000), Split (2016), and Glass (2019). All of them written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan.
I had lots of fun binging through these three films. I love the groundbreaking premise these films push forward and the deconstruction of the Superheroe comic book movie. Superheroes are real; They are all out there—they have always been out there, and any one of us could potentially be one.
M. Night Shyamalan broke into the movie industry with the Sixth Sense (1999), a Well-made Horror-thriller — I still remember the joy I felt when I walked out of the movie theater; I saw it at the newly opened Ballston Regal movie theater in Arlington, Virginia, all the way back in ’99.
M. Night followed the success of Sixth Sense with Unbreakable. I remember that I went on a date with a girl who wanted to see it badly on its opening weekend. She was a huge horror fan and loved watching anything that sounded scary or might potentially be scary. I guess she figured, since it was the same Sixth Sense writer-director, it might be along the same line as 6th Sense. We had no idea what exactly we were walking into, and it was definitely not marketed as a superhero movie. My date walked out of the theater perplexed; she did not like it.
I, on the other hand, loved it—the whole idea of what if superheroes could exist in real life was fascinating. The unique concept that we live amongst superhuman beings and how discovering their existence would change the way we perceive ourselves. It was a more realistic take on how superheroes could be like in the real world; Working regular jobs, living an everyday life without really knowing their powers and weaknesses. David Dunn (Bruce Willis), never remembering being sick, never realizing that his only weakness is water. The choice of having Dunn wear an oversized poncho that resembles a superhero cape was genius. The dialogue was very deliberate, and the scenes are shot kind of like a comic book. It was an excellent movie-going experience, and we were teased for more films, but it took M. Night 19 years to complete his trilogy.
When SPLIT came out, I had no idea that it was connected to Unbreakable. The Marketing once again omitted to mention any connection to David Dunn or Mr. Glass. It wasn’t until I heard the online chatter regarding its relationship to unbreakable that it piqued my interest. Sadly, I could not see it in the theaters. I was going through a rough patch in my life, and I could not afford to spend money or time to go to the movies. I eventually saw that it was streaming on HBO, so I set up my DVR and recorded it to watch it sometime in the future, which I finally did during this lockdown — I only wished that I had seen it on the big screen when it came out.
Jame McAvoy is out of this world with this performance — He is terrific here, playing all those characters. However, I kept wondering where things were heading….waiting for the Unbreakable characters to show up. Still, I was patient, knowing full well how M. Night hits you with those unexpected mind-blowing twists like he did in some of my other M.Night personal favorite films: SIGNS (2002), THE VILLAGE (2004), and THE VISIT (2015).
Anya Taylor-Joy was amazing here playing Casey — we get to see how she begins to develop a type of Stockholm Syndrome connection with Kevin. All in all, SPLIT is a solid stand-alone sequel.
Right after I finish streaming SPLIT, I streamed GLASS.…. You have to watch GLASS with a clear understanding of the first two movies as reference points. I was excited to see Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson back together, but they barely get any screen time. David Dunn did almost nothing, somewhat relegated in the background. Its been 15 years since the events of Unbreakable, and it is reflected in the movie. Bruce Willis’s character is visibly older.
Sarah Paulson was an excellent addition to the cast; she was subtle and effective in all of her scenes. Anya Taylor-Joy returns as Casey, and It was cool to have Joseph Dunn back played by the same actor now all grown up (Spencer Treat Clark). He is now more of an Alfred type of character, assisting his father on crime-fighting vigilante escapades while keeping his true identity a secret.
I was not expecting to be as disappointed with how the story unfolded as I was. I had some issues with the mental facility where all three extremely dangerous prisoners are being kept. It seems to be a minimum-security facility and guarded by blatantly incompetent staff members….. The whole thing seemed far-fetched.
And what about the typical and expected M. Night movie twist?…. Well, it is an underwhelming twist; A shadow organization that has existed for thousands of years. They identify and track down superhumans while suppressing the truth from the public. What is the grand plan from this secret society?…. Maybe this concept could be explored further and potentially become a setup for future films within this universe.
After 19 years of waiting for the conclusion of this trilogy, I was expecting something epic, but it left me a bit underwhelmed. I was under the impression that Glass was going to be M. Night’s crowning achievement. Nevertheless, I still found these three films to be remarkable filmmaking achievements. I consider myself a fan of M Night Shyamalan filmmaker; he has proven to be a director, not afraid to try different things. With his last few projects, he seems to be returning to his origins as a filmmaker.
As a complete Trilogy: Four out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿🍿