Sep 18, 2009

[Movies] Unbreakable (2000)

UnbreakableThe movies of M. Night Shyamalan are known of their unique twists at the end ever since The Sixth Sense became such a box office hit. Sure, it's a storytelling device that is a bit cliche in some ways and often ridiculed (especially by Robot Chicken writers), but it's as much his signature as the Brian de Palma Effect (as my grandmother used to call it) when the bad guy always comes back at the end for one last scare.

I'm not really what you can call a M. Night fan given his movies have gotten progressively strange over the years. His ability to craft a story that always has to have a unique twist at the end hasn't been all that constant, but we know he tries.

This movie was one of his earlier works and what many argue to be one of his best considering the rest of them. The premise was interesting enough and was certainly not quite what I expected one my partner got around to making me watch it.

Unbreakable is an odd movie that reunited Bruce Willis and M. Night for another project. This time around, Willis plays security guard David Dunn who gets into a horrible train accident. The odd thing here is that David is the only survivor and managed to escape without a single cut, scratch or broken bone. He initially dismisses this as nothing until he is approached by a man known as Elijah Prince (Samuel L. Jackson), who was born with a condition that makes his bones extremely brittle. Because of his condition, he became obsessed with trying to prove that if a man as vulnerable to harm could exist, then the reverse must also be true - a man can be born to be practically invulnerable. This obsession was fueled by his love of comic books all his life and thus this search is the equivalent of him looking for an actual superhero.

The movie is interesting since for the most part, you're never quite entirely sure whether or not David actually has superhuman abilities. His son is convinced of the notion while his estranged rice is going through mixed emotions given she's relieved he's alive but still determined to go through with their divorce. All the while, Elijah continues to badger David in order to find a way to convince him of his abilities and ultimately map out what will become his destiny. Despite my own tendency to guess the ending of movies and such, I was left guessing for most of the film in terms of the truth behind his powers, which was a nice feeling.

MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 27:  Director M. Night Shy...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

The movie felt like a very realistic and modern take on the superhero story. Sure, there's no flashy costumes or psychotic villains with kooky quirks in terms of how they full of their crimes. There's no dramatic origin story and there's no personal tragedy that drives the hero out of his safe zone. It's really just a simpler story of a man who discovers he's not quite like the others and is uncertain what to do now once he comes to terms with his identity. Plus the camera shots used were definitely creative and made sure to make the viewer feel like they were one of the characters in the scene, thus quite literally putting one in the shoes of that persona.

Now the twist at the end was nicely appropriate but not that unexpected. M. Night's foreshadowing in this movie was not quite as sublte as in The Sixth Sense and so given the nature of the characters involved, it just made sense in terms of the ending. Not a dramatic surprise, just a comforting feeling that things remained logical and sensible all the way to the end.

Unbreakable gets 4 comic book art posters out of a possible 5.


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