By Harrison (Canada)
Unbreakable (2000) starring Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, and Robin Wright, was a courageous act of audacity by M. Night Shyamalan; portraying a risky story that could’ve or partly did, disappoint audiences. With a great burden of the success: The Sixth Sense, the movie in which brought a completely anonymous name to the Hollywood box office, Shyamalan gave us another taste of his originality that left me with unequivocal bewilderment. This truly is a one of a kind director that shows his boldness in ways that are impossible to see today. With incredibly high expectations from both critics and audiences, Shyamalan does it again with the movie Unbreakable.
“What if Superman was on earth and didn’t know he was super?” (Quentin Tarantino) This truly is the perfect equation for this movie. Unbreakable goes under the genres of drama, mystery, thriller; but genuinely, it’s an origin story for a superhero. This movie starts with a doctor frantically sweating as he examines a newborn infant. He soon concludes that the infant has broken all his arms and legs just from coming out of the womb. This abrupt start gave a thrilling chill to me and a great taste of how the movie was going to layout. As the movie proceeds, we soon learn that this infant is Elijah (Samuel L. Jackson). The next scene occurs in a train with Bruce Willis’s character David Dunn. A few minutes pass with this man and we learn all that we need to know about our protagonist; with an excess of one of the best cinematography and original camera work I’ve ever seen.
We learn that David has problems with his marriage, has a fear of water, and quit football a long time ago. These characteristics which seem irrelevant soon layout to be the fundamental roots of the problems that David faces. The scene fades to black and judging from the sirens, we assume the train has crashed. To our surprise, David is alive without a single scratch; the sole survivor. He returns home dumbfounded and resumes his days as a security guard in a football stadium. Elijah soon approaches him and questions if David has ever been hurt. This question haunts David until he finally accepts to talk to Elijah. Elijah owns a comic store and is passionate about them. Shyamalan did a perfect job filling each characters with so much depth as there is a scene when Elijah scowls at a customer for trying to buy one of his “arts” for a kid in purposes that disturbed Elijah’s moral beliefs.
The script of this movie shows layers and layers way beneath the surface of a character and portrays them with such original passages and scenes. Proceeding, Elijah’s statement is that if there is a being like him, that can break his bones so easily, there must be a being the complete opposite. Here lies the first hidden plot of this movie. Shyamalan is already hinting the similarities of the characters by referencing their direct opposite differences. This brought to the movie an outpouring of realism; almost to the point of forgetting this is a superhero movie. Time passes and David starts to believe in Elijah as more sequences ensue. As you probably guessed, Elijah and David become friends for helping each other find their true places in the world and the movie comes to an end as David finally becomes what he was destined to be.
The ending twist of the movie was a huge surprise as it was a huge disappoint to the people at the time. The ending shows Elijah as the main antagonist of the movie. After a few minutes of Shyamalan’s authentic flashbacks and dialogue, it just makes sense. Everything makes sense. The reason why Elijah’s character is so full of detail and magnificently intricate, why they’re both described as opposites and so much more of the main plots of the movie just comes out of the shadows and dazzles us in such perfectly edited shots. Elijah had planned all the catastrophes to find the right hero that can give him a meaning; a true meaning in existing; as Mr. Glass, the rival or enemy as Elijah states. Elijah’s final words are that he finally has a place in all of it and even true enemies which have the most distinguishable differences can also be the friends. Regardless of what any of the critics said at the time; comparing this movie with The Sixth Sense even though they were completely distant movies, Unbreakable is an undeniably marvelous movie and it is Shyamalan telling you to find your place in the world, whether a superhero or a villain, everyone has a role in this world. You just have to find it, deep inside your heart.