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For Real Comic Book Fans
on July 5, 2007
Unbreakable is about the mythology behind comic book superheroes and the purposes that each of us have in life. The film opens with the birth of a baby boy with all four of his limbs broken. He is Elijah Price, who is played by Samuel L. Jackson, and he has type I OI or brittle bone disease. As his life goes on, he gets the nickname of "Mr. Glass" as up the point of present time in Unbreakable, Elijah had broken bones in his body 57 times. Elijah is motivated early on to socialize in some capacity by his mother and his primary interest becomes comic books. As he gets older he soon begins to question what the reason is for his own existence and comes to the conclusion that if people like him exist with his weakness, then surely there must be someone on the other end of the spectrum with massive strengths. Elijah believes there is nothing scarier than to live life without knowing your purpose and he makes the assertion that there are in fact real-life superheroes.
Bruce Willis plays David Dunn, a security officer, who, unlike Elijah, is trying to find his own purpose in life. He gave up his football career for his wife but now his marriage is falling apart. David survives a train wreck that kills 131 people, and he is the only survivor. He was completely unharmed. Elijah believes David to be a real superhero and gradually confronts David with his theory. David's son Joseph believes Elijah and assists David in finding out more about his potential powers. Just to add, I'm of the opinion that it is an absolute pleasure to watch Willis and Jackson act in pretty much anything.
As with any M. Night Shyamalan film, giving too much away is hugely detrimental to the experience and please know that this film is entirely worth going into with no more information then I have already provided. What Shyamalan has done here in retrospect, while considering the recent onslaught of big-budget comic book movies, is create a completely unconventional yet convincing adaptation of comic book heroes' origins. At the same time Unbreakable celebrates the mythology behind these fictional characters. It takes a profound imagination to come up with a screenplay that gives this concept the treatment that Shyamalan has. It is the kind of concept that might have taken almost a lifetime of brainstorming.
A friend of mine once said that the Sixth Sense was a gigantic and nearly perfect movie for absolutely everyone, while as a comic book fan Unbreakable was tailored made perfectly for him. Though I'm half the comic book fan he is, I concur with that assessment enough to confidently invoke it hear. If you truly love comic books, Unbreakable is your film. If you are not a lover of comic books, then try to walk into this film expecting little action and you shouldn't be disappointed.
It can be argued that Shyamalan has lost his way in recent years, although he does retain his technical prowess even now. Nevertheless, Unbreakable is still a joy to watch and is a shining example of Shyamalan during his most inspired and generative phase.