Heroes walk among us, and they take the shape of ordinary people taking life a day at a time. They’re our police officers, our teachers, our baristas, parents, lovers, and friends (and also Kenny Rogers).
But we live in a culture with misplaced priorities. A culture that idolizes actors and politicians. One obsessed with the extraordinary heroes of comic books and the superhuman feats they can achieve.
Writer/Director M Night Shyamalan saw this disparity at a time when comic book movies were a blip on the cultural landscape. And in Unbreakable, he exploits the disparity in a clever way.
David Dunn (Bruce Willis) is a an everyday security guard with a rocky home situation, who feels he’s missed his purpose in life.
Truth is he has.
But David’s life changes dramatically after being in a train crash that kills everyone onboard… except him. In fact, he makes it out of the crash without even a scratch. This attracts the attention of Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), a comic book art collector whose brittle bone disorder has led him to develop a few theories about superheroes.
To say more would be to spoil the film and its ending. But it is hardly a spoiler to say that Unbreakable offers something unique that you’re not gonna find in other comic book movies. The reflective look at what it means to be a hero is sorta profound, while the characters are compelling in a way that makes you wish the film was longer.
Samuel L. Jackson completely steals the show in this movie. Every time he’s onscreen, it’s magnetic. Bruce Willis, Robin Wright, and Spencer Treat Clark are good too, but the director has them taking a wooden approach that doesn’t always end in a dramatic character moment; sometimes it ends on a fade out, to be resolved at another time. It’s a style that works for this film, but not one that I prize in most others I’ve seen
My first reaction upon seeing Unbreakable was “Why has this movie eluded me all these years?” Perhaps it’s the low key style, the lack of bombast, or the lack of marketing in the years since its release. But great films deserve to be seen; and Unbreakable is a definite classic you won’t wanna miss.
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