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Unbreakable

Reviewed By Greg Muskewitz
Posted 12/10/00 07:30:38

"I think it's a step up from the promising, but disappointing 'Sixth Sense'"
4 stars (Worth A Look)

I apologize for my tardiness. I’ve been catching up, and haven’t gotten around to writing this up until now: “Unbreakable”: M. Night Shyamalan employs the same somber mood with another conceptual storyline. “Unbreakable” is very analogous to “The Sixth Sense” in that Shyamalan’s similarity of “the unique and promising idea” (a child who sees the dead, a man who is uninjurable) but expands by structurally building from that concept.

David Dunn (Bruce Willis) is the Sole Survivor from a tragic train wreck. Not just a survivor, but he’s also uninjured. As he’s in the process of domestic troubles (wife: Robin Wright Penn; son: Spencer T. Clark), this accident serves to draw them slightly closer together. David gets an anonymous note and traces it to a comic-art gallery dealer, Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson). Price suffers from Osteogenesis Imperfecta, a disease that has as-of-yet has caused 54 broken bones. (“When I was a kid, they called me Mr. Glass”)

To go much further along in the development of the plot would hint away at too much of what I’m sure viewers want to discover on their own. “Unbreakable” is ostensibly a palatable tale of comic book proportions. Shyamalan takes a very similar approach to “The Sixth Sense,” a movie I wasn’t particularly fond of, but in the unveiling, goes farther and more detailed here.

While I was not a fan of “The Sixth Sense,” despite the originality of the concept, I felt that the movie plugged away too slowly and into obscurity. We needed to see more of Cole's (Osment) encounters than just hearing about them; spoken proofs don’t hold as valid as those visual proofs. I see, therefore I believe. It took too long before Cole was doing anything with his ability before I lost interest. However, by utilizing that same interested, querying approach, it kept me more curious by giving us the visual examples and evidence we need to believe it and keep us interested. “Unbreakable” also stays very slow and hinting, and I’m sure the audience will be expecting a familiar twist ending. (The foreshadowing swells out in lines about comic books like, “They say that one has a surprise ending!” No doubt the audience will be looking for signs all the way through, I believe that for those wowed by “Sense,” this won’t be nearly as quenching.)

Bruce Willis, but moreso Samuel L. Jackson are nicely placed into unequalled dynamic characters. Jackson’s Elijah Price is a dominant screen rara avis, and I think he could be turned into a great literary (or even comic book) hero, along with, but to a lesser extent, Willis’ Dunn. The amorphous Wright Penn is good, and I though unrecognizable.

One of the more unique assets to “Unbreakable” was the accouterment. It was selectively different, as was the blue-dunked cinematography by Eduardo Serra. The latter however, wasn’t as beneficial, almost subtractive, but the long takes added to the separation of involvement on the audiences behalf, and like reading a comic book, the position of a spectator on the outside is wholly more interesting to watch progress.

It’s a very fictional, but nicely construed story. But can I shake the haughty, sycophantic attitude of Shyamalan in the press kit? Nope. I must point out though, that still this is a few shades too slow. It’s as testudineous as a snail.

(Don’t be fooled by the label on this. “The Sixth Sense” was advertised as a psychological thriller. It lacked thrills and was hardly psychological. This has been labeled as a suspense action-thriller. It is not an action-thriller.)

Final Verdict: A-.

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