To get myself prepped for M. Night Shyamalan’s newest film Split, I decided to revisit one of his earlier films. I realized I had only seen Unbreakable once a long time ago, and I had forgot pretty much everything that happened in it. So i decided it would be the perfect choice, and it certainly was a good call on my part.
Unbreakable is about a man named David Dunne (portrayed by Bruce Willis), an average guy who works security at a stadium. After his train derails, he finds out he’s the only survivor, and that he doesn’t have a single scratch on him. This catches the eye of Elijah Price (portrayed by Samuel Jackson), a comic book enthusiast who was born with a rare disorder that makes his bones break easily. Being that he gets hurt so easily, he’s always wondered if there was someone out there who is on the other side of the spectrum. Someone that doesn’t get hurt at all.
Unbreakable’s story is one that is essentially a superhero movie. We are seeing a story of a man who knows that he’s not like everyone and ponders whether he actually might have super powers. It’s great because it’s so grounded in reality. All of the fantastic elements of superhero movies are stripped for an interpretation of “super powers” that could be applicable in real life. This makes the narrative fascinating because it’s such a different take from current day comic book movies. What makes this even better is that this movie was made in the year 2000. Unbreakable is a movie that was way ahead of its time, which is why the movie kinda got buried into obscurity and received mixed reviews at its release.
The acting in the film is fantastic. Bruce Willis easily gives his best performance ever. He doesn’t really get to dabble much in dramatic roles, but between this and Sixth Sense he gives his 2 best. His character doesn’t say a whole lot, but his body language tells you there’s a lot of of pent up pain inside of him. Samuel Jackson is also great here. His performance is also one that is subdued for the most part. He portrays this complex character very well and it’s one of my favorite performances of his. Robin Wright plays David’s wife and she is also great with the screen time she gets. Spencer Treat Park plays David’s son who also wants to know if his dad has these powers. His character is at times desperate to find out whether his father is super human. When he gets his answer his facial expression tells the whole story. Aside from that there’s an intense scene with a gun that I thought he was brilliant in. This kid was good.
What usually comes up in M. Night Shyamalan’s movies is the twist. There’s always a twist or a reveal that flips the movie on its head. I think he’s responsible for the best movie twist ever with Sixth Sense, but he can also miss the mark with movies like The Village. The twist in this movie isn’t that impactful to me. I’m not saying it’s bad because it’s definitely a brilliant reveal that brings the movie full circle and adds new depth to it. It’s just that his other movies had twists that made me re-access the entire film. This one didn’t make me do that. This isn’t a knock on the movie either. It’s just that on the scale of Shyamalan twists it’s not that high.
As for flaws in the movie, I’m struggling to find them. This is an incredibly original film with emotional depth and tons of character development. It’s directed beautifully by Shyamalan and is able to build tension at will. There are a lot of long shots that allows the setting to sink in. A lot of the scenes are even meant to look like comic book panels. The story is ambitious, the acting is fantastic, and that final reveal adds even more to the story. Unbreakable is a film that shows Shyamalan’s love for comic books and tells a story through the eyes of a comic fan. If this movie was released today it would likely be regarded as one of the best superhero movies ever.
Unbreakable gets a 99/100 and is awarded the title of…