Unbreakable (2000)
Directed by M. Night Shyamalan

Artistic & Entertainment Value
* * *

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David Dunn (Bruce Willis), a security guard alienated from his family, survives unscathed a train accident that kills every other passenger. Shortly thereafter, he encounters Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), a man afflicted with extremely brittle bones, who has a theory, inspired by the comic books with which he is obsessed, that Dunn is, in fact, indestructible because he is, in essence, a superhero. Dunn's conversations with Price lead the former to reflect upon his life and to wonder if he might actually have some special gift.

M. Night Shyamalan's Unbreakable is a competent, engaging film that is fairly typical of the director's work. While it lacks the elements of horror that have characterized Shyamalan's other films, it does resemble them visually and thematically.

Like the director's The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable is a dark, pensive work more concerned with the psychological struggles of its characters than with evoking fear or excitement through violence, terrifying imagery, or suspenseful situations. The individuals around whom the two movies revolve are also very much alike. Dunn, for instance, is similar to the character Willis played in The Sixth Sense. He is alienated from his wife and child, but his experiences following the train accident lead him to attempt to reconnect with them. The strange paths followed by the characters of the two films are different, but both are introspective, and both lead to what are intended as surprise endings.

Willis, as he often does, shambles and mumbles through the course the film, but as he portrays a man disconnected from the world in which he lives, his performance works well. Jackson's articulate and intense portrayal of Price is also convincing, but, like Willis', his performance is akin to work he has done in numerous other movies. While neither excels, both actors acquit themselves well and make Dunn and Price interesting characters so that their internal and external struggles keep the viewer engaged with them.

At no point does Unbreakable rise to greatness, but it is a consistently entertaining film. Even the surprise ending is well handled. While it may not come as a complete shock to the attentive viewer, being consistent with the logic of the movie, it is clever.

Review by Keith Allen

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