Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Unbreakable (2000)(Minor Spoilers Review)

**This review contains MINOR spoilers, no plot twists, big reveals, or major surprises**

Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) was subjected to a life of loneliness and misery after an abnormal birth. Frightened at the sight of her broken baby, Elijah’s mother (Charlayne Woodard) learns the truth about Elijah’s crippling condition: Elijah suffers from a rare (and potentially fatal) degenerative bone disease. As a child, Elijah receives the nickname “Mr. Glass.” Elijah chooses a life of seclusion out of fear for more broken bones, but Elijah’s mother puts an end to her son’s self imposed exile from the outside world by promising him a new comic book every week. The catch? Elijah must go outside, and pick up the comic book under a park bench.

As an adult, Elijah owns and operates Limited Edition,  a gallery featuring comic book art. Out of paranoia and a devoted mission to locate his counterpart, Elijah embarks on a mission to find a real life superhero. Elijah’s search leads him to David Dunn (Bruce Willis), an ex football star, who chose a life as a security guard after a near fatal car accident in his twenties. David’s wife, Audrey (Robin Wright) and David’s son, Joesph (Joseph Treat Clark) have different reactions to Elijah’s beliefs of David being a superhero. As a young child, Joesph is awestruck at the possibility of his father being a real life superhero. On the flip side, Audrey believes Elijah is a lonely and bitter man, who views David as a reason to fill the many voids in his life.

David tries to balance a troubled relationship with Joesph, a broken marriage with Audrey, and the puzzling dilemma of being the sole survivor in a horrific train accident, while deciphering Elijah’s riddles about the supernatural and the unknown. David is left with two options during his journey towards the truth. He can ignore Elijah’s proclamations, or David can take a chance to test Elijha’s theories by assuming the identity of an anonymous crime fighter……..

When it comes to the acting department, the chemistry between Samuel L. Jackson and Bruce Willis is the driving force, without a doubt. Character wise, they’re perfect foils for each other. Willis’ Dunn is this Average Joe, who’s content with his normal life as a security guard at a football stadium. But Jackson’s Elijah is this eccentric and jaded man, who pushes Dunn to go the extra mile, and find the answers to the curious questions that continue to plague his life. As far as the quality for Willis/Jackson collaborations go, I still believe we all witnessed the best from these two in Die Hard With A Vengeance, but the tandem of Elijah and David is a forced to be reckoned with.

Unbreakable is an absorbing and mysterious thriller with a majestic sense of wonder, featuring a truly shocking finale that’s guaranteed to leave you speechless. On top of that, Unbreakable features an unconventional superhero tale, because Willis isn’t flying around and smashing buildings, while using a bunch of fancy gadgets to fight the bad guys, and he’s not spouting a bunch of random and crony one-liners in every other scene. No. Instead, you’re engrossed in the story of this ordinary man, who’s trying to figure out his purpose in life, and as the story unravels, a common man is thrust into a threatening life-or-death situation, where he’s forced to confront the possibility of possessing an extraordinary gift.

Although, I have to admit, with hindsight as my ally, Unbreakable is a bittersweet film for me. M. Night Shyamalan’s career took a noticeable nosedive after The Village. Yes, he had Signs after Unbreakable, but it’s kind of hard to ignore the abominable disasters that followed Signs. The Village, Lady In The Water, The Happening, The Last Airbender, and After Earth more recently. Shyamalan committed career suicide, and I think it’s safe to say he’s in a deep hole right now. Yeah, there’s always a chance he can dig himself out, but we’re talking about about a guy, who’s almost solely responsible for a plethora of widely panned train wrecks.

Also, Shyamalan is someone, who needs a leash. Having so much creative control isn’t a good thing for him, especially when you consider his awful habit/obsession of trying to deliver a SHOCKING twist, because nine times out of ten, the “twist” doesn’t live up to the enormous expectations, or the intended shocking finale is a laughable embarrassment (i.e. The Village, and in all seriousness, there aren’t enough words in the English language to describe my hatred for The Village). When you consider all the potential, watching an Unbreakable, Signs, or Sixth Sense is a big letdown, because I’m reminded of a man, who was on the right track to becoming the next big thing in Hollywood.

Rating: 8/10

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