I was at a dinner party last week, and when the topic turned
to movies, "Unbreakable" came up. None of those present
had seen it, but many wanted to go. Someone asks if I've seen
"Unbreakable". No, I say. And you know his previous
film, "The Sixth Sense," I ask. Of course they do. I
hated it. It had been done before, and better. Why should anyone
waste their time retelling a story that's already been well-told?
(Gus Van Sant, take note.)
But I went to see "Unbreakable" anyway. They got my
$6.50, and in return I got to sit in the dark for about an hour
and a half and watch a perfectly passable movie. No --
"passable" isn't the right word. "Puzzling"
is better, but the puzzle is to find out what's wrong with the
film. There is something, but what? Bruce Willis turns
in a fine, muted performance as a man who miraculously survives a
train crash. Samuel Jackson is mostly reasonable as the man who
understands why. Spencer Clark is fine as "the boy".
("Widow? Orphan?" or "Sometimes I made him an
idiot man-child. They hated that.") So if not the acting,
The pacing is deliberate, and maybe a bit drawn-out, but it's
not serious enough to warrant discussion. Or maybe it is. I know
one person who thought it was far too slow and spent too much
time developing characters and not enough time doing things.
Well, if that's the worst you can say, then you're not doing so
I think that leaves the writing.You know, this may be it,
because when I come to think about the writing, I draw a great
big blank. And yet there really was some writing in this film,
I'm sure of it. You can't develop characters without it. But was
there anything really original about the writing, something that
made me sit up and say "Ooh, that was nice"... No, not
really. It starts, develops, and ends, without a lot of
distracting subplots or philosophizing. I have read comic books
that were more thought provoking, and ultimately that's where the
bar is for a film like this, and despite a valiant effort this
film just doesn't clear it.
"Are You Unbreakable?" asks the movie poster. I
blink at it for a moment. "No," I say. "Any other
questions?" Apparently there are none, and so we can close
the books on this one.