Before all of the Superhero mania started with the studios falling over each other to make billions of dollars, there was Unbreakable. Around the time when M. Night Shyamalan had released Sixth Sense and was basking in the glory of a profoundly innovative thriller.
He had an idea of a superhero which was different from that of Stan Lee’s. This superhero was a common man, not even aware of his super powers. And that is how Unbreakable became the most uncommon superhero movie ever.
Unbreakable tells the story of David Dunn (Bruce Willis) who is living a less than extraordinary life as a security guard and becomes the only survivor of a train wreck that killed everyone else except him. It also tells the story of Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) who in some ways is the complete opposite of David Dunn – he has a condition where his bones are so brittle that they break at the slightest pressure – he is teased by kids and they call him Mr. Glass.
Unbreakable tells the less than extraordinary story of how these two characters meet and how the theory Mr. Glass about Dunn being an unbreakable man is finally accepted by Dunn himself, in turn fueling the birth of the unlikely superhero. But Unbreakable is more than an extraordinary story in terms of how it is told. M. Night Shyamalan brings the same slow burn and character definitions he gave us with Sixth Sense and the movie moves along at a slow pace. But it has so much going for it – in terms of the characters, their arcs, their chemistry and supporting characters.
Both Willis and Jackson play their parts really well. They really are a great pair to watch on screen. Jackson could have been more of a geek, I didn’t really see him as an art dealer but that was ok. It fit. The direction is good and Shyamalan does a great job setting up something that could have become an original superhero franchise (Not Marvel or DC) but alas, it didn’t.
When the movie came out, people either hated it or loved it. The haters called it farfetched and slow. The people who loved it saw the movie for what it was – an insanely original superhero character and movie.
I am one of them those lovers of the movie – it was great. Not as much as Sixth Sense but still great. I think people should try and watch it again.
Lesser known fact: Shyamalan had apparently come up with 2 other movies with the character of Dunn but never fleshed them out. But obviously, he has thought of other characters in this universe. Like Kevin who has 24 personalities living in him, a super-villain who is about to be born in a few years after Dunn accepts his destiny of being a superhero. What a way to connect it. And that is what is shown in Split, Shymalan’s latest comeback movie.
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