Unbreakable


Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
Written by:M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Robin Wright, Spencer Treat Clark
Released: November 30, 2000
Grade: A-

“Why are you looking at me like that?” 

“There are two reasons why I am looking at you like this.  One, because it seems in a few minutes you will be the only survivor of this train wreck.  And two, you don’t have a single broken bone or a scratch on you.” 

After a discouraging job interview in New York, security officer David Dunn (Willis) is returning home on train 177 to Philadelphia.  The next minute he finds himself waking up on a hospital bed talking to a doctor and asking what happened.  The train derailed, 131 people were killed and Dunn is the sole survivor.

At a memorial service for those killed, an envelope is left on Dunn’s windshield asking the question “How many times have you been sick?”  Dunn can’t seem to remember so does some searching.  He asks his wife, he asks his boss but no one can seem to remember a cold, a sore throat, anything.  The only injury of any kind came from a car accident in college that wrecked his football career.

The envelope was left by Elijah Price (Jackson), an obsessed comic book collector with his own art gallery, Limited Edition.  Elijah suffers from a rare medical condition - a severe brittleness of the bone and has spent a third of his life in hospital.  It has occurred to Elijah that if there is someone like him, there must be someone who is the exact opposite?  Every day he has scoured newspapers looking for the elusive phrase “there was a sole survivor”.  Has the riddle been solved in the discovery of David Dunn?  Is he truly unbreakable?  Just what does Elijah want with Dunn now that he has been found?

M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense) will make you wait for the answers.  Like The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable is deliberate and pieces of the puzzle are revealed ever so slowly.  There was a moment midway through the movie where I knew he had me.  The film had turned in a way I didn’t expect and there was no way of predicting where next it would go.  Attention should also be given to Shyamalan’s use of colour - the movie is very grim but colours on certain characters do stand out.

Roles are purposely underplayed but the cast could be better with emphasis on the role of Dunn’s son played by Spencer Treat Clark (he sure ain’t no Haley Joel Osment).  It is the story that makes the film however and can best be described as creatively brilliant with only a few minor qualms.

Once again I was fooled by the twist ending which doesn’t quite have the impact of The Sixth Sense.  Be prepared but don’t expect a revelation that puts everything preceding it in a new light.  Rather, prepare for an ending that will foretell the future.  It is not a well-publicised fact that Unbreakable is rumoured to be the first in a trilogy.  This will make more sense after you see it.

Craftily told and directed, Unbreakable will again make you sit up straight and pay attention.  Part of the new breed of filmmakers, Academy Award nominated Shyamalan will have us all awaiting the next instalment.  Are you ready to take that first step?  Are you ready for the truth?