Cert 15 Stars 3

Obsession and self-delusion threaten the world in this much anticipated sly superhero sequel from the supernatural horror devotee, M Night Shyamalan.

The writer and director of 1999 smash, The Sixth Sense, brings two of his previous thrillers together, with a trio of star names in a clever but plodding exploration of group psychosis.

2016’s low budget mega hit, Split, saw Scotsman, James McAvoy, as a monstrous predator with a multiple personality disorder, while 2000’s Unbreakable saw Bruce Willis star as a super strong vigilante alongside Samuel L. Jackson, as the criminal mastermind, Mr Glass.

Now the three are incarcerated in a psychiatric institution where the wonderfully watchable Sarah Poulson plays a psychiatrist who specialises in delusions of grandeur.

To underlined the point there’s discussion of magicians and circus acts, and a fairground ride appears in a key scene.

She has only three days to persuade the men they do not have superpowers before they are permanently locked up, but the guys are resistant her treatment and there is a plan to escape.

With an impressive range and physicality, McAvoy is superb as he flips between 19 different characters, and is by turns scary, funny and compelling, and his performance deserves a more entertaining film.

Critiquing society’s obsession with superheroes is a bold and daring exercise in the week the Aquaman movie becomes the latest billion dollar behemoth at the box office, and may possibly turn off casual movie-goers here who feel they were promised a more traditional superhero film, albeit with a twist.

Jackson gives a purposefully twitchy performance, and Willis at least seems more engaged than in any of his recent films.

Shyamalan’s indisputable craftmanship is undermined by his showmanship and alienates his audience by operating on an intellectual level not an emotional one, delivering a movie which is light on action, has major pacing  issues and has a very low quota of scares.

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