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Saturday, 29 August 2015

# 14 - Movie Review - Unbreakable (2000)

Cast: Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Robin Wright Penn, Spencer Treat Clark
Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan

A security guard is the sole survivor in a train wreck, and a comic book shop owner tries to convince him that he might be blessed with superhero abilities.

At some point of time or the other, we have all wished that we were superheroes. Maybe aspired to have abilities that no one, absolutely no one, had. This forms the basic premise of Unbreakable, a movie that released 15 years back to lukewarm response from the audience, but has gained cult status somewhere along the way.

On the surface, the Dunn family seems as ordinary as the Joneses, David Dunn (Bruce Willis) and Audrey (Robin Wright) are going through a rough patch and their marriage is on the verge of a breakdown. Their son, Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark) is a regular adolescent who hero worships his dad.

A train accident, through which David emerges unscathed, changes all that, he and his wife decide to give their marriage a second chance and David receives a note ('how many days of your life have you been sick?) that gets him thinking. It's revealed that the note was sent to him by Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) who was born with a rare disease that makes him susceptible to breaking bones easily, his own bones that is.

Elijah is the owner of a comic book store that sells rare comic books, not the typical comic book guy this. He is convinced that David is 'unbreakable', because 'if there is someone like me in the world, shouldn't there be someone at the other end of the spectrum?'

Elijah evokes sympathy from the audience, but his bitterness and sarcasm stand out and make it clear that he is not one to be trifled with. David on the other hand seems bland in comparison, however, as the movie progresses, the many layers of his persona are gradually revealed.

Unbreakable is a tribute to comic books, but if you expected a no holds barred, typical superhero movie or something in the Die Hard mould for that matter, you would be disappointed. This is a slow movie, yet its anything but boring. Its a fine dish on simmer for most parts. Samuel L. Jackson and Bruce Willis are excellent and make for perfect casting, but due credit to the Director and the Music Composer. The music (James Newton Howard) is fantastic, and this is the kind of score that makes you wish that real life had background music.

Like The Sixth Sense, the twist in the tale seems obvious after it occurs, but until then, in spite of the slowish pace it never occurs to you.

While I am calling the movie slow, rest assured that it is a compliment, the action occurs by way of revelations and dialogues, which I am not going to reveal over here. Samuel L. Jackson gets most of the good lines, deservedly, and Bruce Willis underplays his part (think Pulp Fiction).

The Dark Knight may have made critics sit up and take notice of the genre, but Unbreakable is undoubtedly the pioneer here. The detail and thought that has gone to the making of this movie, despit its single line story is worth lauding. If you didn't notice it in the first watch, see it again, this is a movie that asks, nay, demands for multiple viewing. Apparently this is one of Quentin Tarantino's favourite movies, you can't take it lightly then, can you?

A note on the ending, a lot of people found it abrupt and unsatisfactory, to me it seems perfect and the only plausible conclusion that this story could have.

Speaking of endings, what happened to Manoj Night Shyamalan? How can the director of a film like this come up with the ones that he is making nowadays. There was talk of there being a sequel to this movie, which as a fan, I would love to see, but I think this is a tale that doesn't need a chapter 2, its better for it to exist as a standalone movie. If you haven't seen Unbreakable, you need to go easy on the wrong kind of masala, and WATCH IT RIGHT NOW.


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