Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Robin Wright Penn
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
M. Night Shyamalan
I remember being instantly intrigued by this film when I started seeing the previews. The question "Are you unbreakable?" sort of melted into my brain for quite some time. I am into that someone may, in fact, be "unbreakable."
Yet, all this intrigue for me couldn't quite get me into the movie theatre to see this film. I waited quite awhile, and ended up seeing it on DVD. In some ways, I regret this decision...yet, I'm not sure I would place this film much higher were I to see it in a theatre.
My biggest concern with M. Night Shyamalan is that he has a tendency to let his intellect and his ego get in the way of his films. He throws so much into a film that occasionally, as brilliant as it may be, it ends up looking chaotic to the average moviegoer. This film is filled with so many subtle nuances...so many gestures...quiet moments...images...that I can't help but feel it was destined to not have the mass appeal that "Sixth Sense" had...Yet, my concern is that he used so many of these tools that the average moviegoer either 1) couldn't get it, 2) wouldn't take time to get it or 3) would stop caring by the end of the film.
Bruce Willis does a nice job here as the lone survivor of a train crash. While I was in touch with the affect we were going for here...it simply wasn't always successful. Even as Willis' character transitioned during the film, I never saw the transition...never felt it. It was a nice performance, but an actor with more range could have done so much more with this role. Jeff Bridges in "Fearless" comes to mind...while this obviously wouldn't have been a great role to choose from a career standpoint, I think he could have done a much better job here.
Samuel L. Jackson also turns in a nice performance here, but once again, is simply too low-key much of the time. I understood the purpose, but there also has to be a buy in to the characters. The lack of energy, lack of emotional resonance bothered me.
In fact, for the second Shyamalan film in a row I'd have to say the strongest performance was by a child actor. Spencer Clark is wonderful as Willis' son...giving much life, emotion and range to his character.
The cinematography is wonderful, the score a bit over-bearing at times but generally a solid accompaniment.
This film is solidly entertaining, but I can't help but think it missed the boat in a few places. A stronger lead actor...and Shyamalan's ability to let go a little bit more could have turned this film into a classic.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic