Unbreakable is a film that has audiences equally divided into two camps. Those that thought the film boring and pretentious, and those who found it to be perhaps the most brilliant "super-hero" film of all time. I have pitched my tent with the latter.
Unbreakable is director M. Night Shyamalan's follow up to the hugely successful The Sixth Sense, and is perhaps the riskiest sophomore release by a filmmaker since Todd Solondz's creepy pedophile study, Happiness, a few years back. In this case, however, it is not what the director shows us in this film, quite the contrary, it is what we do NOT see that makes this film such a risk.
Unbreakable is the story of a quiet, sad security guard named David Dunn (Bruce Willis), whose marriage is disintegrating as is his own sense of purpose. David is en route via train back to Philadelphia from New York City, where he is planning to relocate while he and his estranged wife work out the final matters of their separation. David's train derails, and while all of the passengers on board are killed, David awakens in a hospital unscathed. This draws the attention of Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), a man with a degenerative bone disease that has caused him a life of trauma and pain. Elijah has suffered dozens of breaks since childhood (the children called him Mr. Glass), and while bedridden for most of his life he developed a love for comic books. A love that turned into fascination and a theory that the characters in those colorful magazines are in fact based on stories of ordinary people who possess extraordinary abilities, but may live their entire lives without ever realizing the gifts bestowed upon them. Elijah makes the suggestion to David that he is one of those extraordinary people.
Unbreakable is one of those films that defies description, and to delve further into the plot would only serve to ruin the film for those who have yet to see it, but I will say that this is the most gentle, quiet, and moving "super-hero" film I have ever seen. The film moves at a very slow and deliberate pace, but this pace actually heightens the realism of the world of these characters. Bruce Willis is absolutely mesmerizing as David Dunn. His whispery delivery and beaten puppy demeanor is matched only by Samuel L. Jackson's tense and angry Elijah Price. The two actors play off of each other brilliantly under Shyamalan's deft direction.
If you are a fan of the Alan Moore/Frank Miller school of graphic novels, you will be utterly blown away by this film. Unbreakable takes all of the elements of classic comic book mythology, blends them with the more adult graphic novels of the eighties and nineties, and then puts a Hitchcockian twist in the tonic and delivers a film that will resonate with you for days after viewing.
The DVD is a beautifully packaged 2 disc set with loads extras, but unfortunately no commentary, which is the only thing that hurts this otherwise flawless set. We do get some behind the scenes docs, a making-of featurette, a very nice Samuel L. Jackson hosted Comic Books and Superheroes short, as well as several deleted scenes, stills gallery, and conceptual art slide show.
This film was rumored to be part one of a planned trilogy, and while Jackson and Willis both seem interested in revisiting these complex characters, it's relatively poor box-office may never let us see this story come to its intended fruition.