I was once again scrolling through my Netflix queue, as I do many times, and a movie caught my attention; M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable.
I have not seen this movie and Shyamalan’s recent filmography is why. I liked The Sixth Sense and that’s about it. However, I have not seen some of his other films that I’ve heard are good. Unbreakable is one of those movies I hear is actually a good movie.
It has Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson which is definitely a promising cast. They had great chemistry in Die Hard 3 so I’m excited to see them in this. The only other thing I know about this movie is that it’s kind of a superhero film. That’s what I’ve heard, anyway. The description on Netflix says that one of them survives a train crash while everyone else dies. It sounds like he has always been “unbreakable” and we’ll see him discover that in the movie.
I’m going to make two predictions here: First is that Jackson will be the unbreakable one, and two that there will be the typical Shyamalan plot twist at the end. The latter seems to be a pretty easy guess though. Now it is time to press play and watch Unbreakable.
Well… I was completely off on one guess and pretty close on the other. Jackson does not play the unbreakable one. Instead he is even more breakable than the average person. Willis turns out to be unbreakable here, putting their characters on the opposite ends of the spectrum, as Jackson points out.
I won’t give away any spoilers about this movie, specifically the end because I’m sure there are plenty of people who haven’t seen this, like me a couple hours ago. I will just say I was heavily invested in this movie the whole time. While the ending didn’t satisfy, I enjoyed watching the mystery develop up till the end.
Like the description stated, Willis is the sole survivor of a deadly train wreck. This catches the attention of Jackson’s character, an avid comic book collector who has abnormally weak bones. Through most of the movie Jackson pesters Willis about his “powers” and how the two of them are connected. They are on the same wave, just on different sides. Willis is also going through some domestic issues with his wife, played by Robin Wright Penn. Was she married to Sean Penn at one time? Either way, she will always be Princess Buttercup to me. Or Jenny. The crash prompts her to give their marriage one more chance, literally by going on a second first date. Who knew Shyamalan could write good characters?
Willis’ family matters adds drama to an already intriguing mystery. This came after The Sixth Sense which is hailed as having one of the greatest cinematic twists of all time. Ever since then it seems Shyamalan has felt the pressure to top that in every movie he makes. While watching this movie I had a thought: There’s no way the ending is going to work. I was right. The mystery conceived was too mysterious for its own good. It simply fizzled into an easy, unexciting conclusion.
I have a feeling this might play better a second time. With knowing the reveal, you can probably see it right in front of your face, similar to the way it did in The Sixth Sense. The reason I think that twist was better is because it made sense and satisfying concluded. The one in Unbreakable felt forced and didn’t reflect the character. It surprised me, yes, but it ruined the suspense I had sustained for so long.
I guess this is loosely a comic book, superhero movie. Jackson brings the superhero thought into our head. And Willis does do a couple of things a superhero might do. If you think of this movie as a comic book story, the big twist at the end is kind of obvious. Therefore, I think Shyamalan limited his creativity and forced himself into an ending that could have been better.
Discounting the end I’ve already talked about, this was a good movie that I thoroughly enjoyed. Shyamalan does know how to keep his audience’s attention here. And even though I was left wanting more, I do not regret watching this mystery. Jackson and Willis are effectively reserved and subtle. They play their parts exactly the way they should, but didn’t blow me away.
Having seen more bad Shyamalan films than good, I would rank this as my second favorite behind The Sixth Sense. They are very similar to each other so it is close, but Haley Joel Osment seeing dead people will always hold a special, dark place in my heart. And if I pretend it is 2000, then Shyamalan is a very talented director and I have little bad things to say about him. Please don’t remind me that it’s 2015.