Thursday, September 10, 2015

Movie Review: "Unbreakable" (2000)

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Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Year: 2000
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 46 minutes

A train derails killing everyone aboard, except one man named David Dunn (Bruce Willis), who is miraculously unharmed. Shortly after the tragedy, he is contacted by an art dealer named Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), who specializes in comic book art. Elijah has a condition which makes his bones very fragile, and this has earned him the nickname Mr. Glass. He has a theory about comic books, that they are partially based in reality, and he believes David is the real world version of a superhero.  

After M. Night Shyamalan's directorial breakthrough with "The Sixth Sense," people were expecting big things from him, and rightfully so. Luckily, he followed up that film with another solid, wonderful movie in "Unbreakable."

This film asks the question, what if superheroes existed in real life? Of course, not in the manner we see in big Marvel or DC movies with big budget special effects, but in a way where they would be unaware of their abilities. To them and most of those around them, they would appear completely normal, but maybe they never get sick, or never get injured, or have some sort of athletic abilities beyond that of an average person. This is the theory of Elijah Price, played by Samuel L. Jackson. Elijah was born with a condition which makes his bones brittle and easily breakable. As a young child and unable to play sports or play with other children as other children do, he became an avid reader and collector of comic books. He believed at one point in time, comics were based on actual historical events or life experiences, of course exaggerated and jazzed up for mass commercial consumption. It's when David Dunn, played by Bruce Willis, is the sole survivor of a massive train wreck and walks away completely unharmed that Elijah thinks he has found the hero which will prove his theory. When Elijah presents his hypothesis, David writes him off as a lunatic, but Elijah is determined to show David he is correct. David's son Joseph, played by Spencer Treat Clark, wants to believe his dad is a superhero and actually starts to do things that could seriously injure his father if Elijah's hypothesis is wrong. David, on the other hand, believes himself to be a normal person. Therein lies the question: is David normal or a superhero of sorts?

We found ourselves watching this film with great intrigue as the truth is revealed, leading to the inevitable twist at the end. As all good twists go, it may not be the one we totally expected, but it makes total sense when it happens. For us, the best part of "Unbreakable" is its performance by Samuel L. Jackson as Elijah "Mr. Glass" Price that really makes this film worthwhile. He plays the part with such a resounding conviction in his beliefs, and this shines through on the screen. Bruce Willis' performance is much more subdued and understated, a far cry from his powerhouse "Die Hard" days, but it is still a solid performance nonetheless. Watching these men perform on screen is a treat as gripping and tense moments happen to and with both of them, remaining unpredictable and intriguing throughout its run time.

Overall, "Unbreakable" is a great and worthy follow-up to "The Sixth Sense," and though it doesn't quite match its predecessor, it is still a very good movie.

My Rating: 7.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 7.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 68%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
One year ago, we were watching: "Deliver Us from Evil"

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