The Great Films – Unbreakable

by Alan Rapp on January 31, 2019

in Home Video

  • Title: Unbreakable
  • IMDb: link

“They say this one has a surprise ending.”

Unbreakable movie reviewToday’s Throwback Thursday post takes us back to one of my favorite super-hero movies. Overshadowed by writer/director M. Night Shyamalan‘s far more commercially successful first film and his subsequent slide into mediocrity, Unbreakable stands alone as the one film from his catalog that gets better with each subsequent viewing. A perfect origin story, Unbreakable is a super-hero film without any of the trappings of super-hero films. A low-key, slow-paced drama, the story slowly unfolds while staying true to the basic truths of comic book storytelling. If there’s an anti-Batman and Robin, it’s Unbreakable.

The film has everything going for it including a writer who understood his subject manner, stars perfectly cast as real-life comic book characters, a terrific humor, and some of the best shot scenes of any film from this decade by Eduardo Serra whose framing choices help mold and develop each character climaxing in the traditional birth of a hero that remains grounded in reality more than any super-hero movie before or since. It’s a perfect storm that results in an amazing film that holds up as well today as when it was released more than 18 years ago.

The film centers around a pair of characters. The first is Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson/Johnny Hiram Jamison) who from his birth has suffered from osteogenesis imperfecta causing brittle bones and multiple breaks over his life earning him the nickname “Mr. Glass.” The second is apathetic security guard David Dunn (Bruce Willis), disconnected from his wife (Robin Wright) and son (Spencer Treat Clark) who is searching for something more to his life that he can’t quite put his finger on.

When David is the sole survivor of a massive train crash, Elijah believes he has found the person he has searched for his entire life. After all, if there is someone as brittle as Elijah why couldn’t the opposite be true? Why not someone… unbreakable? Fueled by a lifetime of reading comics, Elijah imagines David to be the kernel of truth behind super-hero stories and sets his mind on convincing David of the truth as well. While David’s son is willing to accept the premise, leading to a pair of amazing sequences involving an unorthodox workout session and a confrontation and gunpoint, David is far less willing to accept the line that Elijah is peddling.

Sometimes you are hoping to find one remarkable scene in a film. Unbreakable has at least a dozen from Elijah’s reflection in the old tube television to David holding on for dear-life while taking down a dangerous predator, fully embracing the premise he found so ridiculous just days ago. And in-between there are great moments both big and small such as the doctor asking about the train crash, several steps along the way of David embracing his destiny, and the various scenes between Willis and Penn as two people who still love each other, even if they have forgotten how to be with each other.

While some cried foul at the film’s ending, unlike Sixth Sense, Unbreakable‘s ending is not a plot twist. For a script that religiously stays true to its subject manner, everything you need to know about David and Elijah is there to be seen. While it would take nearly two decades to earn a sequel, Unbreakable continues to gain fans. From what we’ve seen since, I have serious doubts that Shyamalan can ever duplicate the success of Unbreakable, but that makes it all the unique. The film has been released multiple times on DVD and Blu-ray and is also available to stream.

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