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Saturday, April 2, 2011



Unbreakable is a 2000 dramatic mystery film directed by M. Night Shyamalan. The film opens on David Dunn (Bruce Willis), a married man on his way home from New York on a train that derails, killing everyone on-board - except him. Somehow, David walks away from the crash unscathed, causing everyone around him to wonder just how he managed to do so. After leaving a memorial service for all those killed in the crash, David finds a note stuck under his car's windshield asking him how many times he had been sick in his life. The question quickly becomes an obsession, and with the help of his wife Audrey (Robin Wright), David realizes that he had never once been sick in his life. He traces the note to a special art gallery where he meets Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), a man who was born with a type of brittle bone syndrome. After conversing for a little while, Elijah believes that David may be "unbreakable," in that he cannot be injured. He starts to attempt to convince David that the world may need a person like him - a protector, so to speak. David shrugs off the notion, but as time goes by, he starts to wonder whether Elijah may actually be correct.

Now, I watched this film last night but was too tired afterward to write the review, so bear with me if this sounds a little jumbled. I had been meaning to watch this film ever since I watched The Sixth Sense because many people had told me it's actually good Shyamalan fare. And in comparison to some of his recent efforts (i.e., 2008's The Happening and 2010's The Last Airbender), Unbreakable is damn near brilliant. However, compared to the annals of the rest of film history, it simply falls into the "quite good" category. I had a very interesting viewing of this film, considering it's one of the only Shyamalan films I've seen in which I did not know the ultimate twist going into watching it. The Sixth Sense and The Village (which I have yet to watch) were both spoiled for me before I had the chance to see them, so they proved to be a little lackluster (although, the power of The Sixth Sense still ranks it at #142 on my all-time list). That being said, let's get to the actual review of the film...

We actually have a pretty good screenplay, although it literally makes you wait until the very last scene to punch everything home. This seems to be Shyamalan's sole purpose in making film - to make the audience wait until the final moments to garner some resolution. I have to say that I wasn't entirely expecting the final outcome, but as I thought about it as I drifted off to sleep, I realized how obvious it had been. I should have picked up on it a lot sooner, but perhaps I was tired from a long day of movies (in case you didn't notice, check out my other review from yesterday: Insidious; Source Code; Win Win). We've basically got a superhero story on our hands here, but it's not really packaged as such throughout the film. The story really focuses on Dunn's inner struggle as he tries to figure out just what's "wrong" with him. In a way, I guess you can say this is like an origins story of a superhero. The fact that it's all encased within this comic book universe that Elijah so craves makes it all the more dashing. My only real issue with the screenplay was that it moved so slowly that it never lets you properly hook into what's going on. Again, that could've just been me trying to watch it as I slowly succumbed to the wonders of dreamland - maybe I'll have to give this one another view on a fully functional day.

The acting is good, in a very subtle sort of way. I loved Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense, and I wanted desperately to love him here as well, but I came away merely liking the character. However, his collaboration with Shyamalan helped to bring out the actor in Willis, rather than the comedic action junkie we had all grown to know and love. His roles in both The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable are so glaringly different from roles he's taken on in the past that it's a little awkward to see him as such. That doesn't take away the fact that he is a very good actor, though. Aside from Willis, there's really no one else to talk about except Samuel L. Jackson. It took me a little while for his character to grow on me, but eventually, I was able to fall into his warped sense of reality. Jackson plays him well, with an outward subtlety that almost masks the manic energy floating around inside Elijah's skull. It's quite a sight to behold, actually.

I'd also like to take a moment and give credit to James Newton Howard, who composed the score for the film. Although it's not quite as good as his composition for The Sixth Sense, it's still quite good and fits the film very well. Here's a little taste of the score, in case you're curious to hear it:

Overall, I think I'm going to have to go back and watch Unbreakable again in a few weeks. The more I think about the film, the more I like it, but I might want to give it another go just to prove that my feelings are warranted. In a day and age when Shyamalan has become a bit of a laughing stock in Hollywood, everything he does has to be taken with a grain of salt. However, Unbreakable might actually be one of his better films, and although it's not quite reaching The Sixth Sense, it could very easily come close.

Movie Review Summary:
Grade: B-
1.5 Thumbs Up

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