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Perhaps there really is such a thing as a fickle Muse; a spirit of genius that sometimes alights upon the artist like a butterfly upon a leaf, but then, suddenly and inexplicably, flies off again. How else to explain writer-director M. Night Shyamalan’s decision to sully two fine films that stood on their own two feet — 2000s Unbreakable and 2016’s Split — by yoking them together and driving them over the cliff that is this talky, balky, treacly mess of a concluding chapter? Both told complete stories about extraordinary characters: a criminal genius who is willing to slaughter innocents in his quest to give meaning to his suffering, and an abused man-child who has decided that not only does his suffering have meaning, it makes him superhuman. There was no need for a third chapter, and as it turns out, there wasn’t much material for one, either. Or even much will — or so it seems from the sloppy storytelling and tired twists. There are a few thoughtfully placed cameras and thrilling moments — Bruce Willis vs. a door, for one — but they’re not nearly enough to make this self-conscious live-action comic book worthwhile. With James MacEvoy, Samuel L. Jackson, and Sarah Paulson. 2018.

Matthew Lickona

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