'Unbreakable': Unrelentingly Gripping
By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 24, 2000
Whatever you ultimately make of "Unbreakable," I think you're going to be
mesmerized by the experience.
Bruce Willis gets answers from Samuel L. Jackson in "Unbreakable."
Just as he did in "The Sixth Sense," writer-director M. Night Shyamalan
leads you into a fascinating labyrinth an alternative universe that lurks
right under our noses. In this case, it's the mythological world and, in
these modern times, the secret design to that labyrinth the key to the
path is contained in comic books.
David Dunn (Bruce Willis), the sole survivor of a massive train wreck, is
about to learn a great deal about himself, destiny and comic books. His rapid education comes from the prophetically named Elijah Price
(Samuel L. Jackson), whose scripture derives from such comic adventures as
How could David, a soft-spoken security guard from Philadelphia, escape a
disaster that claimed 131 lives? Elijah, a remarkly perceptive man who
suffers from a degenerative bone disease that makes him especially vulnerable
to fractures, has his suspicions. So does David's adulatory son, Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark), who considers his father a true hero.
One thing David should know, Elijah explains, is that comic books aren't just comic
books. They're a form of history. Sure, he continues, they're "jazzed up" to
be sold to young boys. But their mythical stories about good and evil, are
the modern equivalent of cave paintings or the Odyssey or the Bayeux
These comic books tell Elijah vital things about David. He asks David some crucial
questions: Has he ever been hurt before? Has he ever called in sick?
Suddenly, David is forced to reassess his entire life, at the urging of a
Without getting into the details, I think that, given the profound, mystical
questionsthat Shyamalan raises, he opts for a relatively complacent conclusion. I
don't think this movie is perfect, by any means. But it's rare to find a film
that makes you even hope for perfection. I was hooked from beginning to end. Shyamalan's movies are
great simply because they have such inspired belief in themselves. They don't
just invite the audience to solve the puzzle, they ask viewers to look within
themselves. And if you willingly follow Shyamalan into his twisting, winding
premise which means adopting the para-reality of comic book melodrama "Unbreakable" becomes extremely powerful. Whatever your final
verdict, you could do worse than enjoy one of the most fertile minds in
"Unbreakable" (PG-13, 107 minutes) Contains gruesome bone fractures, violence and scenes of high emotional