Bruce Willis is a unique force in movies. Bursting into the popular consciousness alongside Cybill Shepherd in kooky TV detective show Moonlighting, for which he secured his only Golden Globe, it was 1988’s classic action thriller Die Hard that shot him into big-screen stardom.
Bulging charisma and hardy grit in a sweat-stained singlet, 33-year-old Willis sold the idea off-duty cop John McClane could more or less single-handedly take down Alan Rickman’s band of German terrorists occupying an LA office tower.
Forever loved for that increasingly unlikely franchise – as well as director M Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense – other indie hits include Pulp Fiction, Looper and Moonrise Kingdom.
Despite these high points, his 40-year career is also stuffed with turkeys, of which his latest collaboration with Shyamalan is the worst.
Sure, there was the huge misfire of Brian De Palma’s The Bonfire of the Vanities adaptation, the hilarious ick of Colour of Night and the sheer grinding nastiness of Death Wish.
Then there was heinous heist flick Hudson Hawk, which scored him a pair of Razzie Awards for his performance and writing duties. And annus horriblis 1998 saw him secure the Worst Actor Razzie in a three-way share for Mercury Rising, The Siege and Armageddon (confession, we have a soft spot for that last cheesy hit).
But when he’s firing on all cylinders (he’s been on cruise control a bit in recent years) Willis’s undeniable presence keeps even the duds interesting.
Which brings us to the biggest crime of his latest stinker Glass, his fourth collaboration with Shyamalan. It’s painfully dull and devoid of any wit.
Connecting their second feature together, 2000’s reasonably interesting spin on comic book origins Unbreakable, to the hugely problematic though box office-popular Split (2016), it’s like a Z-list Avengers.
Super-strong train crash survivor turned Batman knock-off vigilante David Dunn (Willis) tracks down James McAvoy as Kevin Crumb, serial killer with competing multiple personalities from the second, a heinously retrograde take on mental ill health.
Also from Unbreakable, Samuel L. Jackson’s manipulative ‘super villain’ Elijah Price, a man with fragile bones and a dubious ulterior motive, just happens to be residing in a mental hospital where both Crumb and Dunn end up.
Glass brings all three ‘gods amongst us’ men together and proceeds to do almost nothing with them, other than allow them to mansplain their brilliance at each other at interminable length before even the film’s plot loses interest in them.
Combining a particular skill for excruciatingly leaden dialogue with a unique ability to elicit wooden performances from everyone, remarkably even the stellar Sarah Paulson as a psychiatrist here, Shyamalan has flogged the big twist gimmick to ever-diminishing effect, but there isn’t even that to look forward to here. The supposed revelation is spelled out from the start.
As Vulture’s David Edelstein said, “If Shyamalan is an original, his originality is in draining the life out of pop archetypes, twerpily annotating them, and presenting it all as a gift from on high,” and added of Willis specifically that he, “Successfully reproduces his stuporous-ness from Unbreakable – not a happy achievement”.
If you’re here for main man Willis, be warned: Dunn soon fades into the background, a bit like my interest in this film.
Want a superhero fix? Go see the infinitely superior Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse instead, or just stick on Die Hard.