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movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Unbreakable

Starring: Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 105 Minutes
Release Date: November 2000
Genres: Drama, Suspense

*Also starring: Robin Wright, Spencer Treat Clark, Charlayne Woodard, James Handy, Eamonn Walker, Elizabeth Lawrence, Leslie Stefanson

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

UNBREAKABLE is the highly anticipated film that again unites THE SIXTH SENSE writer/director M. Night Shyamalan and actor Bruce Willis. The kid this time, however, is not Haley Joel Osment but 12-year-old Spencer Treat Clark (GLADIATOR). Superbly crafted and strongly acted, the movie feels much like its predecessor. While it's well worth seeing, it has to be labeled as a disappointment.

Whereas THE SIXTH SENSE was a great film without the ending twist, UNBREAKABLE relies on its "surprise" ending to close the deal with its audience. The ending is interesting but feels too much like a cheap plot trick. It's also a lot easier to guess than THE SIXTH SENSE's shocking conclusion.

The director's control is amazing. Taking significant risk, he sets a pace so slow and methodical that he banks on the audience's good graces to stay with him. He never loses you, but, in less capable hands, the movie could have turned into a major seat fidgeter. Still, as you sit there in suspense, you're likely to find that the movie is drawing to an end before it ever seems to have properly achieved lift off. It's a great ride in a sleek jet that spends all the time taxiing around the runway.

As the story opens, we are given a host of statistics about comic books, culminating in the conclusion that the average comic book enthusiast spends the equivalent of one entire year of his or her life reading comics. It's a strange way to get started, but it lays the groundwork for the rest of the plot.

When we first meet David Dunne (Willis), he is a sad and lonely guy traveling on a train. Willis's emotive performance lets us share in David's pain before we have even a hint as to what it could be. A balding, middle-age security guard at a football stadium, David is the paragon of physical health, having never been sick since, well, no one is quite sure. Emotionally, however, he is a wreck, complaining that he wakes up incredibly sad every morning. His marriage with his wife Megan (Robin Wright Penn) is ending, and they are in the final boarding stages of a separation.

The train crashes, killing everyone except David, who doesn't have a scratch on him. This leaves him even more dazed and confused than normal.

In a parallel story that is quickly joined to the other, Samuel L. Jackson, as Elijah Price, plays a man whose bones are so brittle that the kids call him Mr. Glass. Elijah, who was literally born with broken bones, is as fragile as David is indestructible. Oh yes, David is a comic illustrations art dealer, but only to serious adult collectors.

Filmed by Eduardo Serra in extremely dark, morose shades of gray and scored by James Newton Howard with ominous, foreboding music, the intense picture projects a strong impression on the viewers. Long sections of the movie are so silent that I was embarrassed just quietly turning the pages in my notebook.

UNBREAKABLE takes you on a mesmerizing journey that you don't want to miss. But don't be surprised if it leaves you less than satisfied. I will not say anything more about it lest I accidentally give something away. This is important since, absent the anticipation of the story's resolution, the movie loses most of its punch.

UNBREAKABLE runs 1:47. It is rated PG-13 for mature themes, some disturbing violent content and a sexual reference and would be acceptable for teenagers.

Copyright 2000 Steve Rhodes

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