MOVIE THEATER REVIEW: “Split” stars James McAvoy (X-Men: Days of Future Past, Wanted), Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch, Morgan), Betty Buckley (Eight is Enough, The Happening), Haley Lu Richardson (The Edge of Seventeen, The Last Survivors), and Jessica Sula (Honeytrap, Skins [TV series]). It is written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan (Unbreakable, The Sixth Sense). When three girls are abducted by a man with personality disorder, they must find a way to break free by using his twenty-three personalities to their advantage before a deadly, unknown one is unleashed.
Anybody who knows M. Night Shyamalan knows his unpredictable quality of films. One day he’ll release “The Sixth Sense” and another he’ll grant us with “The Last Airbender.” When I heard that he was making yet another film, I did not expect to see it, let alone in theaters. However, the great reviews seeping out of this picture changed my mind, along with the shocking conclusion that this story came to. So, I went out of my way and saw it today, and I will tell you that it is quite impressive. What struck well with me the most in this film would be its dialogue, which was both incredibly engaging and the saving grace of this feature. I use the term “saving grace” lightly though, considering how this is a technically well-made movie anyway. I mainly said it because the dialogue is the best part, for Shyamalan shines in his writing and use of subtleties to draw out plot devices as well as emotion. From the moment this story began, I was invested. Hardly any exposition was given, forcing me to sail the same boat as the other characters into the dark, thrilling abyss that is “Split.” I wouldn’t say that this was as tense or horrific as some may have claimed, but there were moments of pure tension, especially when the climax approached. Everything fell into place almost seamlessly, crafting a wonderful work of mystery and intrigue. The character of Kevin, whom James McAvoy plays out fantastically along with his many personalities, is the centerpiece of this rabbit hole of wonder, and Shyamalan made sure to make him interesting. Sure, there is not much that is left up for the audience to figure out, considering how Kevin is not a hard character to crack, but through him Shyamalan fleshed out the opposite lead, Casey (Taylor-Joy). I thought that this release had a great amount of character development without spoon-feeding the audience everything they can figure out on their own with great writing. On top of that, like I stated earlier, the performances were really good, with both McAvoy and Taylor-Joy stealing the spotlight and providing an enjoying ride. This is definitely a story worth watching, not only because it is entertaining and engaging, but also because it picks the mind about the idea of split personalities and how they can make humans super. I for one was really interested in the concept of individuals such as Kevin, and wanted to gain more information or theory about it. Outside of the plot and performances, the cinematography and direction were great. I thoroughly enjoyed the feel of this release as well as the movements and positioning of the camera to flesh out a scene in a tense fashion. Shyamalan’s choice of locations also played a prominent role in the overall gritty and dark feel of this production. I was engaged by this film, but even after all this praise I have bestowed upon it, I will say that it wasn’t the best Shyamalan picture, nor a terrific venture all-around. It is definitely a great movie to discuss with people, however there were flaws that held it back from becoming something spectacular. For one, there were certain plot devices that felt too coincidental or forced into the story in order to push it along to get to the conclusion, mainly when dealing with Kevin’s psychologist. The dialogue itself wasn’t the main cause of this (though I could predict the outcome of the conflict by something the psychologist said), but certain uses of objects were. Secondly, there aren’t as many layers to this mystery as a fantastic Shyamalan would have. Yes, it does have a few discoveries that were off-putting, but for the most part you can get a sense as to where this is headed. Finally, the not-so-perfect score relies on my overall feeling of the picture in general. I thought that this was a well-made film full of dialogue that is engaging and performances that are fantastic, though I don’t see much rewatchability value in this. Also, I just didn’t feel like this was as amazing as the best reviews would boast it to be. It is surely a big comeback for Shyamalan, as it is his best picture in many years, but he has a ways to go before he reaches “The Sixth Sense” status. As for now, I thought “Split” was a really good movie, deserving of people’s attention who have casted out Shyamalan for his flops. If you are into engaging mystery/thriller movies, I’d point you out to this one. FINAL SCORE: 90%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: