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Unbreakable

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Unbreakable

type:
Movie
Current Status:
In Season
mpaa:
PG-13
runtime:
117 minutes
Wide Release Date:
11/22/00
performer:
Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis, Spencer Treat Clark, Robin Wright
director:
M. Night Shyamalan
Producers:
Limited Edition Productions
distributor:
Touchstone Pictures
author:
7701
genre:
Mystery and Thriller

We gave it a B

It’s fairly obvious that, this far into his career, M. Night Shyamalan is making films that lend credence to subjects traditionally seen as childish. So, as The Sixth Sense was a mature ghost story, Unbreakable is his ultra-realistic look at comic-book heroics. In a dark, olive-drab Philadelphia, David Dunn (Bruce Willis) cranks out an unfulfilled existence as a stadium security guard, unloved by his wife (Robin Wright Penn), unknown by his son. It’s only after David survives a fatal train disaster — and after frequent, cryptic run-ins with the brittle Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) — that he learns the secret of his identity.

There are moments in Unbreakable that reveal Shyamalan as a natural storyteller — he seems as sure of himself as Spielberg was on his fourth film — but there are also moments that reveal the limitations of his style. One of the crucial elements of comic-book lore is that beat where the hero learns of his power and is joyously transformed by it — Clark Kent’s first giddy flight — and Shyamalan’s dour demeanor deprives us of that vicarious thrill. And his insistence on the jaw-dropping twist ending, in this case, robs us of what could have been another great 20 minutes of story, or better yet, the makings of a sequel. Instead, we get an abrupt, Dragnet kicker that would have been edited out of any decent comic.

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