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This review is from: Unbreakable (Two-Disc Vista Series) (DVD)
These days any film associated with comics is likely to be a special effects extravaganza full of action and short on character development. Well director M. Night Shyamalan has taken us in a different direction, (no surprise there). His film, "Unbreakable", explores the action comic philosophy without becoming an action comic itself. You won't see men in spandex leaping from tall buildings to save the day. What you will see is a thoughtful investigation of the unusual skills we humans may or may not have, and the choices we make regarding their use.
I have a talent for putting holes in T-shirts. My sister can permanently stop any watch she wears for a few weeks. It's hard to see either of us becoming crime fighters or maniacal masterminds on the strength of these talents but it does makes you think. Let's stretch our imaginations a little further. What if a man had the uncanny luck to avoid virtually all injury or illness? Could this be significant? Would he even notice? Where would it lead him?
Unbreakable introduces us to such a man. Bruce Willis plays David Dunn, the sole survivor of a tragic train derailment that killed the other 131 passengers. David walks away without a scratch and barely notices his fifteen minutes of fame on the local news channels. But at least one other person takes note of David's uncanny good fortune. Elijah Price is an art dealer, played convincingly by Samuel L Jackson. His gallery specializes in comic art and he is very passionate about the seriousness of his chosen profession and it's medium.
Elijah believes that action comics represent an ancient wisdom, exaggerated and commercialized but still containing an essence of truth. His theory is that there are people with extraordinary abilities and that these people have a destiny. Whether these people become legendary hero's or any other larger than life figure depends on them realizing their destiny and fulfilling their potential. In David Dunn, he suspects lies the heart of a hero and Elijah's obsession soon drags David and his family into a new world.
Shyamalan takes his time with this story. It could have very easily been boring, because when boiled down, little actually happens. However, Unbreakable avoids that trap and becomes instead, a strange mixture of longing, suspense and doubt. We truly get to know David's wife Audrey and his son Joseph. They are not an atypical family; marital problems, boredom and some other dysfunctions feature at the start of the story. In a way, David's gradually more serious attempts to explore his "gift" become the catalyst to improve his home life.
The sub-plot of David's crumbling relationship with Audrey, (Robin Wright), is not fully explored but we are given several clues that make it interesting. David is chasing job offers in another city, even after the accident little emotion passes between he and Audrey, and they sleep separately. All of which points to a lack of love. But to counter this we discover that David sacrificed a promising football career to capture Audrey's heart and, even in the hardest times, he has remained faithful to her. I like these quiet story lines, where nothing is forced down your throat and you have to work it out on your own.
By far the most interesting character is Elijah. Born with a brittle bone disease, his life has been crowded with pain, torment and ostracism. At school he was taunted with the moniker, "Mr. Glass", and to an extent he has embraced this title. If you look closely, you will see that he is always close to glass, for example, his fragile glass walking stick. Elijah is a fighter. His mother headed off a life of seclusion when he was a depressed boy and convinced him to accept life's challenges, eventually leading to his becoming a professional success. Elijah's passion and conviction are magnetic. He not only draws David and his son into the world of duty/destiny but the audience is forced to believe, long before David starts to.
Unbreakable is a subtle film about taking risks, acknowledging hope and following dreams. Whether we have special gifts or not, it challenges us to take a look around and try to find opportunities to make a difference; to stand up to the small and large evils in this world and do our part. I can only hope we see more of these inspiring characters in future films. I want to feel this way again.
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Initial post: Dec 12, 2013 1:08:39 PM PST
love love love your review. Undecided to begin with, your review made me want to watch the movie.You need to blog or something.
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