Summary: Introspective and powerful, M. Night’s second film touches the heart and stirs the mind.
Review: After the smash hit ‘The Sixth Sense’ left horror/thriller fans and movie fans in general out of breath, many expected M. Night Shyamalan’s next film to repeat the success and leave another indelible imprint in our popular imagination. Perhaps it did, but it did so in a way people did not expect. Unfortunately for the ambitious director, the studio was intent on capitalizing on ‘The Sixth Sense’ to sell ‘Unbreakable’. M. Night was not pleased. They are completely different films, despite sharing the same star, a similar production crew, and twist ending. ‘Unbreakable’ is a thoughtful, slow, careful drama that has the power to rend your heart and provoke your mind. The studio didn’t sell it as such, leading to the disappointment of filmgoers. Since its initial lackluster run, however, it has found new life and finally, a home in the hearts of a cult following.
It spins the tale of a security guard, David Dunn, played by a very quiet Bruce Willis. He is haunted by a mysterious, handicapped, comic book historian, Elijah Price, who believes that David is some kind of superhero. You see, David was involved in a horrific train wreck, which killed everyone on board, except him. He doesn’t know what to think, but after unexplainable things begin to happen to him, he has to turn to Elijah for answers.
The film touches on the most universal of questions: The meaning of life. Is there a reason why David survived? Is there a reason why Elijah was born with his debilitating condition?
Wrapping up this story is a sense of art direction both subdued and unforgettable. M. Night frames his shots as if they were frames in a comic book, and even uses certain colors and color coordination to draw our attention to certain people at certain times… just like a comic book. This is brilliant.
Backing the emotion is James Newton Howard, M. Night Shyamalan’s composer of choice. Mr. Howard brings no bombast or silliness, only a quiet, stirring reflective spirit, until the danger, both spiritual and physical, rises, when he unleashes the pent up emotions within the central themes. Violins dominate the orchestral selection, except a quiet, almost mournful heroic tune, played by a sparse brass section.
Bruce Willis is excellent. It’s hard to say more. Samuel L. Jackson, as Elijah Price, makes you truly care about his often suspicious character.
As a unique take on the superhero genre, it definitely left a mark on my mind, and I’m sure it has on many others.