Intermittently entertaining but also a rum mix of goofy and pretentious, Glass sets far more problems than it successfully solves: tying various loose threads together, Shyamalan can’t restrain himself from adding more. The result’s a lumpy tangle, and the trilogy’s weakest instalment.
From top to bottom, it’s Brydon’s film, and his performance matches the modesty of the surroundings: rarely pushing too hard, he finds just the right groove as a browbeaten Everyman lacking spring in his step (or dash in his breaststroke).
Mortal Engines has been thoroughly storyboarded, make no mistake. But here lies the rub – lift-off, personality, and plainly put, direction, aren’t there. All the pieces of the movie slide mechanically into place and wait – and wait – for some spark of soul to turn up and animate them.
Through all the film’s bumps and scrapes, Firth does invest a lot of commendable energy in helping us grasp Crowhurst’s besieged state of mind. It’s a good performance in shaky circumstances, but at least he honours the man’s contradictions, on top of his terror of public failure, and even greater one of exposure as a fraud.
There’s a doomy superficial finesse to the picture, with all its wintry confrontations, skull-trained sniper fire and quick thinking, and it doesn’t take itself as seriously as Fincher’s did. But then, it couldn’t: there’s nothing going on beneath.
This film, with its endless copying of Assassin’s Creed camera angles and state-of-the-art bullseyes, is an ugly machine, tiring to the eye, monotonously scored, and also weirdly regressive on quite a few levels.
The film suggests Inglourious Basterds dumbed down, pumped up, and ditching all pretension. If only it played like a spirited B-horror hybrid we could all get behind, instead of a ghoulish effects trip for the Resident Evil crowd.
You wouldn’t call it profoundly scary – the one thing a wiped-clean slate can’t do is instantly defamiliarise us with every iteration of the monster that’s come since Carpenter. But it’s robustly suspenseful and shot with loving care.
If proof were needed that Barry Jenkins’s directing achievement was far from a one-off, it pulses and dances through every sequence of his follow-up, If Beale Street Could Talk, in all its gorgeous romantic melancholy and sublimated outrage.
Dramatic fragments, blasted our way, dance before us for the next two hours, rotating and glinting, colliding and connecting, like a puzzle in zero gravity. As a transition into flinty, supercharged genre filmmaking, it gets by on no more than electric confidence, high-fiving technical virtuosity, and a cast to die for. It’s very satisfying.
What a step up for Moretz this is. Her wobbly credentials as a leading lady – oddly, and maybe ill-advisedly, there’s a Carrie reference in the script – suddenly feel like a thing of the past. There’s eye-rolling resignation in her performance, then bottomless despair, then tentative hope.