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Starring Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson;
Robin Wright Penn
Written and Directed by M. Night Shyamalan

IN SHORT: Almost unbearable. [Rated PG-13 for mature themes, some disturbing violent content and a sexual reference.]

With our SF-head screwed on and a palpable feeling of anticipation thrumming through our veins, this critic settled in for M. Night Shyamalan's follow-up to the blockbuster surprise of last year The Sixth Sense. The first visual to appear was a screen of text, statistically describing certain habits of comic book collectors. This comic book collector immediately thought, "uh oh," because of all the movies we've seen which had a collector as a character -- short of the work of Karen Page's murderer (director Kevin Smith) -- no one has had a clue to the habits of either end of the spectrum, from geek to hobbyist.

That being said, you don't need to know Jack (Kirby or otherwise) to appreciate some of the visual bits in Unbreakable. For the second time out as full fledged writer/director, M. Night Shyamalan delivers a whopper of a surprise ending on top of a smaller surprise; that being what "unbreakable" is really about.

Getting there, unfortunately, means sitting through 90 minutes of almost interminable character development that could have easily been dispensed with in half the time. We meet Philadelphia based security guard David Dunn (Bruce Willis), his estranged wife Audrey (Robin Wright Penn) and weepy eyed son Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark). This family shares a house, but mom and dad have separate rooms and the latter has just been looking for work in New York. He didn't find any but he still intends to move. The train ride back from the Big Apple is uneventful, except for the pretty young thing in the next seat and a derailment which kills everyone on board. Except David, who walks away without a scratch or a bruise or a scrape or injury of any kind.

That brings the directionless Dunn to the attention of Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), handicapped by a genetic disease called Osteogenesis Imperfecta, Type I, better described as "brittle bones". Tormented throughout childhood, called "Mr. Glass" by the other kidlets, only a love of comic books (a thinly veiled Superman clone called "Sentryman") inspired by an attentive single mom (Charlane Woodard) has sustained him; got him out of the house; given him a reason to live. The grown Price sells original comic art from a gallery called "Limited Editions" and has been waiting all his life for a real-life superhero to appear . . . which is all we can tell without spoiling any of the fun stuff.

What we've described in the last two paragraphs takes around ninety minutes of screen time. Unbreakable moves so darn slowly that you'll have more than enough time to sit and theorize where the story is really going and how it's going to end. You'll have more than enough time to duck out to the bathroom, play a couple of video games if your 'plex has got 'em, refill the soda, pay some bills online (if you've got a cellular link) and still not miss anything. We've managed to begin and conclude full fledged relationships in the time Unbreakable takes to get moving.

We've said it before. We love watching actors do their best work. And we know that Shyamalan is a pretty good writer. And if he deliberately wrote this way so that we'd have way too much time to think of wrong directions for the story to go, well, that's just too damned clever for us to endure. Once it kicks into gear, Unbreakable is a giggle, in the very enjoyable sense. Certain comic book visual images are so ingrained in our culture that you'll recognize them immediately, even if you've never opened a Spider-Man book. If you have, you'll have an even better time. And then the surprise ending hits.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Unbreakable, he would have paid...


We have no idea if Shyamalan is a geek like us, though we doubt it for reasons only a geek would know. Nothing that will get in the way of this, a major disappointment of a movie.

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The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.