Retro Film Review | Unbreakable

Samuel L. Jackson and Bruce Willis in Unbreakable (2000)

Plot: A man learns something extraordinary about himself after a devastating accident.

Director: M. Night Shyamalan

Starring: Bruce Wilis, Samuel L. Jackson, Robin Wright

Genre: Mystery/Sci-Fi/Drama

Released: December 2000

I remember a time when Shyamalan was the darling of Hollywood, that was until Lady in the Water started a 10 run of shockers, luckily for us Unbreakable not only came before this point but was also the inspiration for the two films Split and Glass that have hopefully put this director back on track.

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No one would say that Willis is a great of an actor, merely an entertaining one, but Shyamalan seemingly has a way of getting a tune out him, with Unbreakable and The Sixth Sense two of his strongest performances in this film, here especially he plays possible superhero security guard David Dunn to perfection.

It’s hard to think of a bad Samuel L. Jackson performance and once again he absolutely kills it as Elijah Price. I’ll stay away from spoilers, but it’s safe to say that the way in which his character is developed and the role is acted, I couldn’t imagine anyone better.

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What made the film so enjoyable to me was the interactions between Dunn and Price. providing the audience with some almost electric exchanges. Both are really well developed, with Dunn struggling with his marriage and feeling as if he isn’t whole. while Price’s backstory is set up very well, using comic books as a way to escape his difficult and painful existence, with his mind breaking as much as his bones.

The too storyline by Shyamalan does a wonderful job of building tension in relatively simple plot points, including making the process of walking down a set of stairs one of the most intense in the film.

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These days we are used to all forms of superhero movies coming our of both Marvel and DC, along with films that attempt to deconstruct the genre but at the time of Unbreakable’s release, this was a relatively new concept and does it in an interesting and novel way.

My only real complaint with the film is the ending, which felt a little underwhelming given the work that had been put in to create wonderful buildup. I feel the film could have been made better with an extra 10/15 minutes devoted to David Dunn’s character arc rather than ending abruptly once the twist is revealed.

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More than this, although, Shyamalan tried his hardest to fill his film interesting and almost Hitchcockian elements including the restrained set pieces that Hitchcock long perfected. You could argue that the end product feels overly polished and resulted in more than one event that felt all too convenient. Luckily this doesn’t take away from my overall enjoyment of the movie, which is extremely well-directed, acted and filmed.

If you liked: Brightburn, Dr Sleep, The Visit

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