There was sure to be comparisons between this movie and it's predecessor "The Sixth Sense", mainly because it used the same lead actor, same setting, and a surprise twist ending. True, it does resemble the Sixth Sense in tone and pace and is not a radical departure from the first movie. This is not a second "Sixth Sense" or a remake of it, unlike "Braveheart/The Patriot", this movie has its own individuality despite the similarity to M. Night Shyalaman's ghost story.
"Unbreakable" is a dark story about David Dunn (Bruce Willis), the sole survivor of a dreadful train wreck and what's even more astounding is that he doesn't have a scratch on him from the ordeal. He returns home to his son Jeremy (Spencer Treat Clark), his estranged wife, Audrey (Robin Wright Penn) and his unsatisfying job as a security guard at the local stadium. After receiving a note that makes him question his physical constitution, he treks to a high-end gallery that deals in comic book art where he discovers Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), a man with a congenital brittle-bone disease who has spent many hours in bed reading and studying comic books. Elijah seems to take his comic book world a bit too seriously as he thinks the reason David wasn't hurt or hasn't been sick as long as anyone can remember is that David has super powers and is a super-hero, especially since his line of work is in protection.
The gradual unfolding of the film keeps you entranced. This is a subtle film and the true "action" is in the dialogue and the body language, especially the use of motion and stillness. One part builds on the other and up to the climax. You follow the film expecting one outcome and you get something completely unexpected. This is a great example of the use of misdirection by Shyalaman. The true point of the film is a well-kept secret but ironically, is continually in plain sight, and until the final moments, you don't know what to anticipate.
Now the whole plot of a modern day superhero would sound ludicrous if the director wasn't so talented and could pull it off. I mean you almost start to believe that David is this superhuman guardian of mankind, as does David and his son. The only true skeptic throughout the film is Audrey, who only wants David to help her save their crumbling marriage, and not the world.
Once again, Shyamalan exhibits his trademark use of color to draw attention to certain details of the film. In this movie, two colors to characterize the primary characters in the film; David Dunne is always dressed in green and Elijah Price in purple. In other scenes of the movie where a person's actions/personality demand notice, they too are dressed in a bright color. The colors tend to stand out more than normal as the film is shot in dark, muted light with lots of shadows and contrasts. Key moments in the film take place in the dark or at night.
This movie was well cast. Willis did a good job as the subdued David Dunne. The role of Elijah could not have been acted as well by anyone other than Samuel Jackson, it is almost as if the role was written for him. Spencer Treat Clark (Gladiator) as Jeremy was a good choice. As much as I like Haley Joel Osment, his presence in this film would have been overkill. Robin Wright Penn rounds out the complement of cast members. Her use in the film was as the ground into reality, and Shyamalan placed her well.
The ending is not as jolting as "The Sixth Sense", but it isn't a far stretch from the plot. Unfortunately, it isn't as believable as it could be, but to discuss the ending's shortcomings would not only give away the ending, but ruin the effect of the sequence of events leading up to it. The ending goes too quickly for my taste, however the abbreviation prevents you from thinking too much into it, which after a while you may have found to be implausible and would raise a host of questions.
I truly recommend the DVD version so that you can view deleted scenes. The director narrates these scenes, explains their significance, and why they ended up on the cutting room floor. Much to my dismay there were several scenes that were left out that should have been added to the film. However, seeing them afterwards gives you a much more comprehensive look at the plot and the characters.
Don't go looking for another "Sixth Sense", because you won't find it. This film needs to be viewed and appreciated in its own rights for its own merits. It indeed has many parallels, if you base your viewing expectations on that, you will miss a great story and the true gift that Shyalaman has at skewing focus.
Billz Movie Worthiness Scale: B
Billz Movie Worthiness Scale Values:
A = movie tickets and popcorn for 2 (about $40)
B = buy the DVD when it comes out ($25)
C = rent it
D = wait for it to be on cable/pay TV
E = wait for it to be on regular TV
All Hail The Czarina
Order from Amazon
Internet Movie Database Listing