Unbreakable

on November 22, 2000 by Tim Cogshell
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   Writer/director M. Night Shyamalan set a new standard for ghost stories with his densely woven "The Sixth Sense," a shrewdly executed film that had audiences gasping with shock and surprise. His current project, "Unbreakable," may achieve the same status among films in its genre. But what is that genre? The movie's deft advertising campaign does not let on; indeed, nearly an hour in, the film itself still isn't clear about it. We are allowed to discern a few raw facts: David Dune (Bruce Willis) is the only surviving passenger of a horrible commuter train accident. He hasn't a scratch on him. In due course the question is raised: Has David ever been injured or even sick? It seems not. But how could this be? Why would this be? These are the questions that are left to linger in the mind of the audience for nearly the entire course of the film...unless you are really paying attention. Even then you'd need to be fanatically fixated to uncover the answers in advance.

   Samuel Jackson plays Elijah Price, a man with a different sort of medical anomaly. He has a pivotal role in addressing all of these oblique mysteries. Jackson, along with supporting players Robin Wright Penn ("Hurlyburly") as David's wife, a woman desperately trying to hold together her crumbling family, and Spencer Treat Clark ("Double Jeopardy") as David's young son, provide wonderful performances to buoy the director's languid, vexing style. Just as one might be inclined to decide that this may all be much ado about nothing, the resident weight of what can only be described as damn good filmmaking, including photography by Eduardo Serra and James Newton Howard's score, keeps the question alive. All is revealed with a stealth that makes "Unbreakable" the kind of movie that's talked about well after the credits roll. Starring Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Robin Wright and Spencer Treat Clark. Directed and written by M. Night Shyamalan. Produced by Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum, Barry Mendel, Sam Mercer and M. Night Shyamalan. A Buena Vista release. Drama/Thriller. Rated PG-13 for mature themes, some violent content and sexual reference. Running time: 105 min

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