Cinemaster Score: 9/10
If you want to see an amazing film with action, tension, and a dash of fun, watch Split. It is the second film in M. Night Shyamalan’s trilogy of “heroes” and “villains” in the real world. Set after Unbreakable and within the same universe, Split is able to stand out as its own. The acting performances – especially by James McAvoy – are phenomenal. The characters are realistic but almost become difficult to care for as a result of Crumb being Split’s centerpiece. Split has a story that takes hold of the audience, supplemented with a script that provides an insightful narrative. Although, the ideas presented consisting of Crumb’s disorder don’t make much impact on the audience’s views. Besides those minor downsides, Split is a great film to watch and a step in the right direction for Shyamalan’s universe.
Acting; Few words can fully describe how tremendous the acting is in Split. James McAvoy puts on one of the greatest theatrical performances of all time as Kevin Wendell Crumb and each of his personalities. The diversity between each of the characters McAvoy plays within one body is insane and he portrays each one fantastically. The way McAvoy can separate each of Crumb’s personalities both physically and emotionally on the screen is astounding. Anna Taylor-Joy plays her part as Casey very well, too – bringing in most of the film’s emotional scenes while playing a character who shows very little emotion at all. The performances from each of the side characters are also very strong and passionate. The acting gives Split a realistic feel similar to what Shyamalan used in Unbreakable and it proves to be a successful path once again.
Script; Split is written with a certain elegance – an easy to follow but beautifully rewarding system of dialogue that completely captivates in every sense of the word. Depth, mystery, and dread are all established and affirmed by what the characters say in this script. They are developed with growth and change in mind, the writing becoming less awkward and choppy from the beginning to a fluid seamlessly immersive experience in the end. The writing mirrors the growth of the characters story, creating a synergy nearly unmatched in most films. Its ability to balance a deft mixture of humor, drama, horror, tension, and urgency all into one cohesive whole is nothing short of miraculous.
Characters; Kevin Wendell Crumb, the star (or should I say stars) of Split. He is instantly iconic, with his presence calm yet demanding, his personality kind but malevolent, and his message distorted, yet poignant. He represents the intriguing dichotomy of strength and weakness, good and evil, and the yearning for understanding. When he is onscreen, he demands our attention silently, commanding us to be completely immersed within his world, and showing us the inside of his persona. Without him, this world Split establishes quickly falls apart, as he offers us an example of human evolution made possible through change. He is simply a mesmerizing, and deeply layered character that outclasses many a “villain”. Oh and Casey Cooke (the main girl), she’s pretty good too.
Direction; M. Night Shyamalan is a very controversial director. Not in terms of his personal life or career decisions, but his consistency as a filmmaker. To put it simply, his career has had many ups and many downs, yet we still crave for that creative “comeback” so many inconsistent directors strive for. I would argue that Split was Mr. Shyamalan’s comeback. He demonstrates a great ability to elicit the best emotions from his actors and craft memorable moments in between them. Shyamalan films with an intricate sense of awareness, always knowing what the appropriate response is in the situations he creates. He plays on the audience’s expectations of a final twist at the climax, to instead offer multiple jaw dropping revelations. Few directors, if any, can bounce back from the amount of misfires he’s dealt with in his career. But Shyamalan renews our hope once again with this beautiful, absorbing thriller.
Story; Split’s story is very interesting to say the least. It has an intriguing narrative that is executed well by Shyamalan. The story depicts a character that has what the average person considers a “disorder” and explores the possibility of that so-called disorder being an advantage over others. It follows the idea of the human brain being stronger by having different personalities to protect itself. Split is told well and orchestrated beautifully to portray how being scarred – whether it be emotionally or physically – does indeed, make you more evolved.
Enjoyment; Despite its dark nature, Split is a highly enjoyable film. The story and narrative are cultivating to almost any audience. It keeps you captured in the moment and doesn’t let go. Unlike Shyamalan’s first in the trilogy (Unbreakable), Split never misses a beat. The movie has slower tense moments, great action sequences, some humor to keep it balanced, and an intriguing subplot to fill the gaps. This film is truly breathtaking until the end and most importantly, Split is very rewatchable to enjoy over again.
David: “The very first time I watched Split, I loved it. I have since seen it multiple times because of how great it is. The entire story intrigues me through and through and left me wanting more of Kevin Wendell Crumb. It is a great thriller to watch when I have free time and the twists never get old. It is one of my personal favorites films and James McAvoy never ceases to amaze me with this performance.”
JP: “Split made me more appreciative of the art of acting. James McAvoy impressed me with his wide range of emotions, and the depth he gave to his character. Watching it in a theater gave me such a uniqe viewing experience, as I sat eagerly awaiting the twists that were to come. Nearly everything in this movie is excellent, and it changed my perspective of films”