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Unbreakable (PG-13)
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So... in 1999, writer-director M. Night Shyamalan had what I believe was his first major success with the movie "The Sixth Sense." The next year, this movie came out. Unlike the previous movie, I didn't see this in a theater, but when I first saw it on TV... I don't think it could have been more than a year or so after it was in theaters. And I liked it, though not as much as The Sixth Sense. And then... several years later, I got it on DVD. And didn't get around to watching it until at least a few years after I bought it. So I finally watched the movie for the second time in 2013. (I watched the DVD on the night "Iron Man 3" opened, because I couldn't see that, and wanted to watch something vaguely superhero-ish; plus Samuel L. Jackson was in this, playing a character very different from Nick Fury. Incidentally, earlier in the day I watched last night's episode of Community, which was also comic book-related. I mention these things because I know you're all super-interested in how I go about deciding what DVD to watch when.) It's hard to say whether I liked the movie more or less the second time than the first time... probably it was roughly the same. You know, I'm usually not very good at distinguishing a particular "feel" of films by particular directors, but man, you can pretty much always tell a Shyamalan movie apart from anyone else's movies. Which brings me to another thing I often end up mentioning in my reviews: the fact that it's hard for me to choose a category. I think in a way, Shyamalan always makes "art" films, though I could probably usually find better genres in which to put my reviews. Certainly his films tend to be sort of weird, sort of paranormal, and always there's this sort of hyper-reality about them, which borders on surreal while still being somewhat grounded in reality. I dunno, his movies are just kind of creepy, even when they're being "normal." Maybe "atmospheric" is the word I'm looking for. He just has a way of giving scenes a more abnormal feel than they really need, everything is overly dramatic. And I mean that in a good way (at least for his early films, like this one). In any event, I'm gonna call this an art film, just because I think any of the movie's other leanings aren't quite strong enough to justify my putting it anywhere else.

The movie begins in the past, with a baby being born with broken arms and legs. The next scene is in the present, with a man named David Dunn (Bruce Willis, who also starred in "The Sixth Sense," as a different character) taking a train home from New York to Philadelphia. The train crashes, and David is the only survivor. Not long after that, he meets a man named Elijah Price (Jackson), who is the baby from the first scene, now all grown up. He runs a comic book-themed art gallery called Limited Edition. He has a rare condition that makes his bones very brittle. And he believes that, while there are people like him who are unnaturally frail, there must also be people who are unnaturally sturdy. Extraordinary people whose real life abilities have been exaggerated in fiction to create the superhero myths of comic books. Since David survived the train crash, Elijah believes he may be such a person. Aside from being apparently "unbreakable," David turns out to have much greater strength than he ever knew (though it doesn't seem to be superhuman). And he has intuition about people that might even be somewhat psychic. David doesn't believe any of this, at first, but Elijah is rather obsessive about it. And gradually, David begins to accept that it's possible.

I also need to mention that David is married to a woman named Audrey (Robin Wright Penn), but their relationship has been rocky, of late, and they could be heading toward divorce. (He was in New York to interview for a new job, as he's thinking of moving there, alone.) But after the train crash, they try to rekindle their relationship. And they have a son named Joseph, who is eager to believe Elijah's theory about his father. And there's an incident from when David and Audrey were in college that plays into all that's happening in the present. And I guess I don't really want to say any more about the plot, but this being a Shyamalan film, of course there's a twist ending. Since I didn't remember the movie all that well, I kind of expected the twist to be revealed much earlier than it was, but of course I also couldn't watch the movie without knowing the truth, and um... so, yeah, it's just different from watching it the first time. I think. Actually, I can't remember if I predicted the twist the first time, but it's kind of hard to imagine not predicting it, at least vaguely. I suppose such a prediction could be avoided by virtue of the fact that everything about the movie seems kind of creepy, and therefore... one needn't necessarily expect a particular element of the story to be genuinely creepy. I guess. But it is. Of course it bloody well is. It's a damn M. Night Shyamalan movie.

But anyway, yeah... it's a good movie, and when I first saw it, it reaffirmed my belief, established by The Sixth Sense, that Shyamalan was pretty good at what he does. A belief I'd continue to hold for at least one movie past this one. And while there isn't much actual super-heroing in the film, it's still technically a superhero movie, I guess... and it's probably the most realistic one ever. More so than Kick-Ass or Chronicle or the Dark Knight Trilogy, or anything else that's supposed to be more realistic than the average superhero movie. (Which certainly doesn't make it better than such movies, but... it's pretty decent.)


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