Lots of movies have a battle of wits between a physically powerful enemy and a more clever victim -- but what happens when the enemy has multiple personalities?  This is the set-up for Split, the latest movie from M. Night Shyamalan.

Few movies have ever given so little time to setting up the movie.  Teenager Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy) is at a party with fellow teens Claire (Haley Lu Richardson) and Marcia (Jessica Sula), who think Casey is weird and an outsider.  When they're getting ready to drive home, they're gassed and kidnapped by Kevin (James McAvoy).
The teens wake up, captives in some sort of underground building.  It turns out that Kevin has 23 personalities, ranging from the childing Hedwig, to the prim-and-proper Patricia, and the cleanliness-obsessed Dennis.  Kevin and his multiple selves let the girls know that they're being kept in anticipation of the emergence of a 24th personality, known as "the Beast."  Casey wants to turn the personalities against each other, while the other two teens want to overpower Kevin.  There are also meetings between Kevin and Karen Fletcher (Betty Buckley), Kevin's psychiatrist who thinks his personalities are a form of evolution; and flashbacks to when Casey was a little girl, hunting deer with her father and uncle.
Split works, to a point.  James McAvoy is quite good as the multi-faceted Kevin, making us not only believe in the multiple personalities but even that they can converse with each other and remain quite distinct from each other.  However, Anya Taylor-Joy spends almost the whole movie as a blank, emotionless character, making her a less-than-engaging protagonist.  The ending isn't wholly satisfying, and the Shyamalan "twist" is just that this movie is in the same cinematic universe as at least one of his other movies.  Split is uneven.

Overall grade: B-
Reviewed by James Lynch

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