, writer-director M. Night Shyamalan reunites with Sixth Sense
star Bruce Willis, comes up with another story of everyday folk baffled by the supernatural (or at least unknown-to-science) and returns to his home town, presenting Philadelphia as a wintry haunt of the bizarre yet transcendent. This time around, Willis (in earnest, agonised, frankly bald Twelve Monkeys
mode) has the paranormal abilities, and a superbly un-typecast Samuel L. Jackson is the investigator who digs into someone else's strange life to prompt startling revelations about his own. David Dunn (Willis), an ex-jock security guard with a failing marriage (to Robin Wright Penn), is the stunned sole survivor of a train derailment. Approached by Elijah Price (Jackson), a dealer in comic book art who suffers from a rare brittle bone syndrome, Dunn comes to wonder whether Price's theory that he has superhuman abilities might not hold water. Dunn's young son Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark) encourages him to test his powers and the primal scene of Superman bouncing a bullet off his chest is rewritten as an amazing kitchen confrontation when Joseph pulls the family gun on Dad in a desperate attempt to convince him that he really is unbreakable (surely, "Invulnerable" would have been a more apt title). Half-convinced he is the real-world equivalent of a superhero, Dunn commences a never-ending battle against crime but learns a hard lesson about balancing forces in the universe.
Throughout, the film refers to comic-book imagery--with Dunn's security guard slicker coming to look like a cape, and Price's gallery taking on elements of a Batcave-like lair--while the lectures on artwork and symbolism feed back into the plot. The last act offers a terrific suspense-thriller scene, which (like the similar family-saving at the end of The Sixth Sense) is a self-contained sub-plot that slingshots a twist ending that may have been obvious all along. Some viewers might find the stately solemnity with which Shyamalan approaches a subject usually treated with colourful silliness offputting, but Unbreakable wins points for not playing safe and proves that both Willis and Jackson, too often cast in lazy blockbusters, have the acting chops to enter the heart of darkness. --Kim Newman
stars Bruce Willis as David Dunne, a Philadelphia security guard and the sole survivor of a disasterous train wreck. Not only is David still alive after the crash--he's completely unharmed. After this miraculous incident, he's contacted by the mysterious Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), a dealer of comic book art who seems to have the opposite physicality--his bones tend to snap like twigs. As Elijah attempts to help the reluctant hero realize his superhuman potential, David tries to make amends with his estranged wife (Robin Wright Penn) and son (Spencer Treat Clark).
Following the runaway success of The Sixth Sense, writer-director M. Night Shyamalan once again teams up with Willis for another bleak supernatural tale with a surprising finale. Although Willis and Jackson are excellent in their roles, the highlights of the film are Eduardo Serra's cinematography and Shyamalan's direction, which are eerily atmospheric and inventive--in certain sequences, for example, entire scenes are shot as reflections on glass. Unbreakable is a superhero film at heart, but Shyamalan's somber aesthetic transforms it into something far more intriguing.