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dir-scr M Night Shyamalan
with Bruce Willis, Samuel L Jackson, Robin Wright Penn, Spencer Treat Clark, Charlayne Woodard, Eamonn Walker, Leslie Stefanson, Johnny Hiram Jamison, Michaelia Carroll, Bostin Christopher, Elizabeth Lawrence, Michael Kelly
release US 22.Nov.00; UK 29.Dec.00
00/US Touchstone 1h16
Streets of Philadelphia: Jackson and Willis
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
With huge expectations riding on his shoulders, Shyamalan bounces back from The Sixth Sense with ... another low-key supernatural thriller starring Bruce Willis. And that's where comparisons should end, because despite the same filmmaking style and a (more subtle) final twist, this is a completely different film.
It begins with a blurb about comic books, and it takes awhile to figure out what that has to do with anything. The story centres on David Dunn (Willis), the sole survivor of a terrible train wreck who lives a dull, listless life with his distant wife (Penn) and confused son (Clark). Then he meets the very strange Elijah (Jackson), a comic book collector/obsessive with terribly brittle bones ... and an unbelievable theory about why David has never been sick or injured.
The film's startlingly wacky premise belies its deadly serious tone. Shyamalan once again constructs his story with a slow, eerie quietness that builds the atmosphere and never lets the characters break out in a silly grin. This isn't necessarily a bad thing -- it allows the film to engulf us completely in its world, catching the moods and slowly unravelling the central mystery along with these two intriguing men.
The performances are equally subtle and dark, nicely capturing the confusion of the characters while Shyamalan's artful direction reflects the themes and the drama through a brilliant use of camera angles, colour, film speed, music and so on. Unbreakable isn't a mind-bending grabber like The Sixth Sense, but it's well worth seeing on its own merits. Beautifully well made, intelligent films like this don't come along very often.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
|Danny Stack, UK: Willis teams up with Sixth Sense director M Night Shyamalan again for another taut, supernatural drama. Shyamalan's assured script and direction coupled with Willis' neatly understated performance makes Unbreakable a diverting film but ultimately fails to really impress with its dull tone and story idea. After Willis is the sole survivor of a horrific train crash, he is confronted by brittle-boned Jackson who believes that Willis has 'unbreakable' powers, as opposed to the snap-if-you-touch him qualities of Jackson. Willis is a charisma-free security guard whose passion in his life and marriage (to Robin Wright Penn) has diminished. With the help of his son (Spencer Treat Clark) and Jackson, he discovers a valuable meaning to his life with his impenetrable force. Unfortunately, he takes forever to do this and the final twist in the story isn't really a twist at all - more of a turning point to a more interesting film. Still, well worth a look for those who cosh at the notion of Willis not being a real actor and the growing intelligence of writer-director Shyamalan. (25.Jan.01)|
© 2000 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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