No, Bruce Willis is not dead in Unbreakable; or is he? Unbreakable is the eagerly awaited follow-up by M. Night Shyamalan to The Sixth Sense, his breakthrough debut. There is a lot of scrutiny here, since many directors have an awful habit of delivering non-stellar second hits, and it looks like Shyamalan must also contend with unbelievably high expectations. Unbreakable is a step down for Shyamalan and does not approach the level of his other effort, but it is not a bad movie. If anything, it is a familiar movie. He basically took many of the elements that made The Sixth Sense a blockbuster, and transferred them here. Again, there is Bruce Willis, a kid, and a slow buildup towards a twist at the end.

David Dunn (Willis, Disney's The Kid, The Whole Nine Yards) just survived a horrible train wreck. Not only did he survive, he emerged without a scratch, and everybody else died. He has no clue why this happened. He finds a note on his windshield asking if he ever remembers getting sick. The note is from Elijah Prince (Samuel L. Jackson, Rules of Engagement, Shaft), the owner of a comic book art gallery. Prince has a genetic condition that makes his bones extremely brittle, and he is very susceptible to broken bones. Prince has a theory about Dunn, but Dunn is not willing to believe it (there, is that vague enough without revealing the main story?).

Comic books and comic book themes play a large part in Shyamalan's script. The little secret at the end in part comes from an interpretation of comic books. Unbreakable is Shyamalan's meditation on the nature of what it means to be a hero. And at times, it feels like a very slow meditation. Very little actually seems to happen in Unbreakable. It is more about what happens internally to Dunn, in terms of how this accident affects him and how it begins to change him. The story itself is still original, it is just the tone of the movie that slows it down. The mood is dark and contemplative, and the ending almost feels forced and not really worth the wait. Instead of hints interspersed throughout the film, Shyamalan gives one hint then reveals the secret and ends the movie. There is no time for reaction from either the characters or the audience.

Willis and Jackson's acting matches the general feel of the movie. They speak slowly in monotone, rarely giving any serious intonation to their voice. Their actions are also slow and deliberate, Dunn because he seems so unsure of what to do, and Prince because of his condition. Part of it is due to pacing. Shyamalan (who incidentally has a cameo as a drug dealer wearing a bright blue jacket) excels at building up a sense of dread mixed with wonder, but also walks a fine line between pacing and boredom. Don't go in to Unbreakable with high expectations, otherwise, they will be the only things broken.

Haro Rates It: Not Bad.
1 hour, 47 minutes, Rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements including some disturbing violent content, and for a crude sexual reference.

Back to Movies