One of the problems as a young director if you have early huge success, which is what happened to M. Night Shyamalan in 1999 with “The Sixth Sense” is that if you make a movie that good with such huge box office success in the beginning of your career, you will probably be forever chasing success like that for the rest of your career. In my opinion, Shyamalan got very close with the movie “Unbreakable” in 2000 that had a very good story, a great conceptual idea that even involved comic books and a surprise ending, but this movie had nowhere near the box office success and critical acclaim as The Sixth Sense. I thought the movie Devil, that came out in 2010 and was written but not directed by Shyamalan was good but the overall result was not nearly as impressive as the Sixth Sense or Unbreakable.
Shyamalan’s latest movie “Split”, which he both wrote and directed is his first movie since “The Visit” is an attempt by Shyamalan to create something new, which is always the first and most difficult challenge any screenwriter has to overcome. There have been many movies about kidnapping or abduction, but this is probably the first movie where the insane criminal who kidnaps 3 young women has 23 distinct personalities and also makes regular visits to his psychiatrist played very well by Betty Buckley. The insane kidnapper with 23 personalities is impressively played by James McAvoy in what had to be the most challenging role of his entire career. I also appreciated the depth of the story here, showing not only a man with 23 personalities and one of the disturbed kidnapped women, played by Anya Taylor-Joy, but explaining through flashbacks throughout the film, how they got to be the way they are, by various forms of abuse during their childhood.
I noticed no real surprise ending that Shyamalan is famous for in this movie, as the conclusion of the story seemed to be a nothing out of the ordinary. Overall the acting is very good in this movie and I thought that the young actress Anya Taylor-Joy may have gotten her breakthrough role and should have a very promising career in the movies. She has very symmetrical looks and big eyes that are very dark and unusual. Her previous movie “Morgan” was not good, so its good to see her bounce back with this solid movie. There is a unique surprise in the ending of this film, involving the actor Bruce Willis, where he mentions “Glass Man”, which is a reference to the movie Unbreakable. I thought this idea to end this movie was very original, but many people who have not seen Unbreakable will probably not understand this reference.
I give a marginal recommendation for Split, mainly because of the solid acting and because of newcomer Anya Taylor-Joy