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"Unbreakable"

Directed by M. Night Shyamalan.
Written by M. Night Shyamalan.
Starring Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson.
Release Year:  2000 
Review Date:  11/23/00

Folks--

Happy Thanksgiving!  One of the annual traditions of my family Thanksgiving is to go see a movie after eating our big meal.  (Usually, it is after the big meal AND the Thanksgiving nap, but I didn't take one of those this year.)  This year, with the options being "The Rugrats Go to Paris", "102 Dalmations", "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and "Unbreakable", we chose the latter since the other ones were all, ahem, *family* films.  We like our entertainment a little more highbrow!

One of the other traditions of our family is to start yelling out "sell out" whenever we don't like what we are seeing and start berating the actors and actresses for making a movie so bad.  In particular, Dave Bell is quite good at making note of sell outs at the perfect opportunity.  For example, when we went to see the awful "Batman and Robin" in 1997, Dave called Arnold Schwarzenegger, George Clooney, Chris O'Donnell, Vivica A. Fox, Coolio, Alicia Silverstone and Uma Thurman sell outs during the course of the film and the 30-minute drive that I had to endure with him afterwards, because he was so angry at all of the big stars that clearly took the paycheck over a decent script and wasted all of their God-given talent.

Today, Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson were the victims of my brother's wrath as we sat through the 60th movie I have seen this year (!), the very middle-of-the-road thriller "Unbreakable," from the writer-director of last year's best picture nominee "The Sixth Sense."  Since you probably have no idea what this movie is about--since the previews for this film have left the details to a minimum--let me fill you in.  David Dunn (Willis) opens the film as the sole survivor of a train wreck that has left 130 other people dead just outside of Philadelphia (strangely, the site of "The Sixth Sense").  What is strange is that he has no recollection of the accident itself and it seems he has not one bruise or scratch to show for it.  What is even more peculiar is that no one beyond a comic book collector named Elijah Price (Jackson) seems to really care about that fact and Price goes out of his way to find out more about Dunn's ability to escape death.  The rest of the movie is spent trying to decipher what this strange power Dunn possesses really is, where it came from and how it could be of greater use.

To tell you more would give away more details...and yes, it does have a bit of a surprise ending.  But here is what is weird:  I just didn't care!  The buildup to that point is not very interesting, and a lot of that has to do with Willis.  I really believe that Willis has picked some great films over the years and I am guessing that Willis only did this film because he felt he owed M. Night  Shyamalan, the writer-director of "The Sixth Sense."  That being said, Willis is not very good in this movie at all, but I can't really place my finger on why.  A large part of it must lay on the fact that his David Dunn is, by nature, a quiet, noble type, not the chatterbox that some of his past characters--most notably, John Mclaine from the "Die Hard" series--so there are large, long sections of quiet, and the bursts of conversations that occur every so often are full of lame dialogue and meaningless banter.

I know what it is:  the movie just has no *soul.*  Remember how you felt for Willis' character in "The Sixth Sense" when you find out his, umm, secret?  That moment never happens in "Unbreakable."  There is a fatal fight near the end of this one and you find yourself not really caring who wins it!  Jackson's Elijah Price has a disease that makes his bones very fragile, so fragile that he has suffered through more than 50 broken bones in his 40 years on the earth...but, I never really felt all that sorry for him.  Robin Wright Penn stars as Willis' wife in "Unbreakable", and I never really felt a connection with her estranged-wife personality.

And all of this gets tied back to the ending, which leaves you with a few more questions than answers.  And, unlike "The Sixth Sense", you won't want to go back to watch the movie again to find out what you missed.  You didn't miss anything, but might wish (like my mom and brother did) that you missed this movie altogether.

Rating:  Rental

 

Comments?  Drop me a line at justin@bellviewmovies.com.

 

Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/bellviewmovies.com except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09