Unbreakable (2000)

UNBREAKABLE, the re-teaming of SIXTH SENSE star and director Bruce Wil-
lis and M. Night Shyamalan respectively, is a fascinatingly disappoint-
ing, character-driven suspenser, again with a supernatural slant and 
this time about an entirely ordinary (if inhumanly calm) security guard 
(Willis) who sole-survives a massive passenger train wreck, emerges 
without a single scratch, and is subsequently immediately contacted by 
the odd owner of a comic-book art gallery (Samuel Jackson), an intense 
gentlemen with wild hair, wilder ideas, and bones so brittle that the 
most ordinary of actions, like descending a staircase, are potentially 
dangerous.  Wassup with Willis?  Can his character help Jackson's?  And 
what does the history of pictorial storytelling have to do with it all? 

As in the aforementioned (and likely compared-to) last film, Shyamalan 
again conducts business in a gravely serious and nearly preposterously 
solemn manner.  As craftily accentuated with periods of silence or mut-
ed sound, the dead-calm film is both maddeningly sluggish and refresh-
ingly slower-paced.  (For a while, at least, it's a nice change from 
the rushed razzle-dazzle more-typically of Hollywood.)  Overall, tho,  
UNBREAKABLE is an entirely intriguing film.  Willis is an expectedly 
worthy presence and Jackson is a worthy foil; the premise grabs right 
out the gate like a good Dean Koontz novel, and Shyamalan the Screen-
writer shows his mastery at making those smaller incidental scenes 
sparkle with surprise.  (Love the increasingly uncomfortable exchange 
in the opening, on the train, between Willis and a female passenger.)  

Too bad the characters seem so obviously underwritten.  With the possi-
ble exception of Jackson, whose "Mr. Glass" appears in a couple lengthy 
flashbacks, everyone else feels hollow, as if the story hasn't imparted 
that last bit of information or emotion needed to fully understand or 
empathize with their actions.  Not that the *geeks* in the house are 
gonna mind.  Any "fan boy" worth his or her salt should have most of 
the movie figgered out in advance.  And even *that* ain't a problem, 
'cause a couple of the keenest revelations come last.  What *does* bite 
is that neither Willis' character nor the film itself breaks into even 
a *slight* sweat.  As the final reels un-spool and our hero begins act-
ing upon the things he's learned, the movie continues methodically sch-
lepping along, it's pulse never passing 80.  Oh, and disaster junkies 
be forewarned:  the big crack-up at the beginning happens *off* screen.

Now, each and every one of these nits wouldn't be a (big) problem had 
the ending been better.  The Final Revelations are made, the Final Con-
nections are revealed, and... the movie just ends.  Just like that.  No 
big finish.  No reaction worth mentioning from the characters.  And, 
most hugely disappointing, no continuation of the story.  In the opin-
ion of *this* long-time, four-color fan, the final scenes practically 
*demands an "escalation."  You know, at least embrace *one* of the many 
mind-boggling possibilities for "what happens next."  Heck, even a wee 
coda would be fine; just showing that the story continues, though now 
with an *oppositional* relationship between the parties.  (Sorry, try-
ing to be cryptic.)  Instead, we wrap with two or three ultra-lame ti-
tle cards.  And a few warm fuzzies for Willis' character and family.  
What a f***** cop-out.  With Robin Wright Penn and Spencer Treat Clark.  
(Rated "PG-13"/107 min.)
Grade: C+

Copyright 2000 by Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies as MOVIE HELL: Say Good Night Shyamalan

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Copyright 2001 by Michael J. Legeros -Movie Hell™ is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros