UNBREAKABLE is the highly anticipated film that again unites THE SIXTH
SENSE writer/director M. Night Shyamalan and actor Bruce Willis. The kid
this time, however, is not Haley Joel Osment but 12-year-old Spencer
Treat Clark (GLADIATOR). Superbly crafted and strongly acted, the movie
feels much like its predecessor. While it's well worth seeing, it has
to be labeled as a disappointment.
Whereas THE SIXTH SENSE was a great film without the ending twist,
UNBREAKABLE relies on its "surprise" ending to close the deal with its
audience. The ending is interesting but feels too much like a cheap
plot trick. It's also a lot easier to guess than THE SIXTH SENSE's
The director's control is amazing. Taking significant risk, he sets a
pace so slow and methodical that he banks on the audience's good graces
to stay with him. He never loses you, but, in less capable hands, the
movie could have turned into a major seat fidgeter. Still, as you sit
there in suspense, you're likely to find that the movie is drawing to an
end before it ever seems to have properly achieved lift off. It's a
great ride in a sleek jet that spends all the time taxiing around the
As the story opens, we are given a host of statistics about comic books,
culminating in the conclusion that the average comic book enthusiast
spends the equivalent of one entire year of his or her life reading
comics. It's a strange way to get started, but it lays the groundwork
for the rest of the plot.
When we first meet David Dunne (Willis), he is a sad and lonely guy
traveling on a train. Willis's emotive performance lets us share in
David's pain before we have even a hint as to what it could be. A
balding, middle-age security guard at a football stadium, David is the
paragon of physical health, having never been sick since, well, no one
is quite sure. Emotionally, however, he is a wreck, complaining that he
wakes up incredibly sad every morning. His marriage with his wife Megan
(Robin Wright Penn) is ending, and they are in the final boarding
stages of a separation.
The train crashes, killing everyone except David, who doesn't have a
scratch on him. This leaves him even more dazed and confused than
In a parallel story that is quickly joined to the other, Samuel L.
Jackson, as Elijah Price, plays a man whose bones are so brittle that
the kids call him Mr. Glass. Elijah, who was literally born with broken
bones, is as fragile as David is indestructible. Oh yes, David is a
comic illustrations art dealer, but only to serious adult collectors.
Filmed by Eduardo Serra in extremely dark, morose shades of gray and
scored by James Newton Howard with ominous, foreboding music, the
intense picture projects a strong impression on the viewers. Long
sections of the movie are so silent that I was embarrassed just quietly
turning the pages in my notebook.
UNBREAKABLE takes you on a mesmerizing journey that you don't want to
miss. But don't be surprised if it leaves you less than satisfied. I
will not say anything more about it lest I accidentally give something
away. This is important since, absent the anticipation of the story's
resolution, the movie loses most of its punch.
UNBREAKABLE runs 1:47. It is rated PG-13 for mature themes, some
disturbing violent content and a sexual reference and would be
acceptable for teenagers.
Copyright © 2000 Steve Rhodes