Wednesday, October 7, 2009

#452: Unbreakable (2000)

Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Cast: Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Robin Wright Penn & Spencer Treat Clark

Elijah Price is born with osteogenesis imperfecta, which makes him highly prone to bone damage. When he is given a gift of a comic book collection as a child, he uses ideas from his comics to deduce that if he is on one end of the spectrum with his weaknesses, there must be somebody else out there who is incredibly strong. As an adult, he hears on the news that David Dunn is the sole survivor of a train wreck, with not a scratch on him. Price approaches Dunn, trying to convince him that they are polar opposites, and Dunn is in fact super-human.

This is Shyamalan's fourth film, which I found surprising. I went into it thinking it was his first or second, and I certainly thought it was made before The Sixth Sense (which, in reality, was released one year prior to Unbreakable). I think this film is a step back from his usual style. It's not that the filmmaking isn't good in the first three quarters of the film, but it's not distinctly Shyamalan, which was disappointing. However, Shyamalan's trademark of using colors to represent characters is used distinctly throughout the film, which I always thought was clever.

I'm also never a fan of Shyamalan's self-casting for a small role in each film. He's clearly trying to one-up Hitchcock, but it just doesn't work, because Shyamalan is a crappy actor.

But the film isn't all bad. It's a fun watch with colorful characters, with an interesting (but a bit over-the-top) premise. There's no bad acting - nothing amazing either.

I rank this film pretty equally with Lady in the Water and Signs (I never saw The Village, but I am pretty sure it'd be ranked similarly). These films just weren't as clever as The Sixth Sense for one reason. As we all know, there is a twist at the end of each of his films. What distinguishes The Sixth Sense from the others is that the twist actually changes everything we had believed throughout the whole film, while Lady in the Water and Signs simply bring different parts of the films together.

One thumb up (only partially due to Samuel L. Jackson's hair).

Fun Trivia (Stolen from IMDB):

  • Osteogenesis Imperfecta is a real but rare disease.
  • Several scenes relating to the "Mr. Glass" character involve glass: - as a newborn, he's primarily seen reflected in mirrors - as a young child, he's seen reflected in a blank TV screen - he leaves his calling card on the windshield of David Dunn's car - he's reflected in a glass frame in his art gallery - his walking stick is made of glass.
  • Of all the films he's made, Unbreakable (2000) is M. Night Shyamalan personal favorite.
  • The film derived from the first third of the original script. Shyamalan felt no connection to the last thirds of the text and decided to discard them.

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