Can you really remember all the sick days you’ve ever experienced in your life? Take a second and just try and remember. You’ve probably had your fair share of them, haven’t you? I know I have for myself personally speaking. Even at the start of this year, I was out of my commission for a couple of days recovering from the removal of my wisdom teeth. Sick days are not an uncommon occurrence for normal humanity. Now, David Dunn, is an interesting anomaly to this very thought though.
Following up his Academy Award nominated, The Sixth Sense, M. Night Shyamalan gave us one of the earliest pioneer films in the cinematic superhero genre. Unbreakable tells the story of David Dunn. A mild mannered man who is a university security man by day and husband and father by night. Following a terrible train wreck, of which he is the only sole survivor, he meets Elijah Price. Price mentors Dunn through the discovery of his incredible ability of superior strength.
Shyamalan delivers an almost perfect film here. Beautifully crafting the tragedy of a train wreck within the film’s opening moments and gradually moving to the sick day question; which unleashes the bond between Bruce Willis’ Dunn & Samuel L. Jackson’s Price. The pacing of the film is a thing of wonder – Shyamalan balances both arcs of Dunn & Price in such a way that leave you on the edge of your seat while also crafting curiosity between both characters.
The character of David Dunn is so empathically driven. Here you have this man with these extraordinary abilities; yet he’s so relatable. He’s just a man aiming to be the best father he can be and attempting to be the best husband he can be as well. The areas of his marriage, and even the question of his faithful, paint Dunn in both an honest and vulnerable light which few heroes can pull off. Bruce Willis as Dunn is one of the movie’s strongest legs to stand on. The bond between father and son is yet another strength but also a testament to Willis and on-screen son, Spencer Treat Clark. The two have an immaculate chemistry. Some of the film’s strongest scenes are between these two and those are the moments where no words are being said. The actors are solely going off their facial exchanges.
Then on the flip side, you have Samuel L. Jackon’s Elijah Price. Price is a tragic story of a man with brittle bones which break often. As he mentions several times, “the kids call me Mister Glass.” With a strongly empathic hero in Dunn, we get just as big of an empathic character in Price. Price personifies everything we take for granted in this life: mobility. Jackson delivers an emotionally-powerful performance that stays with you. Given our current state of superhero fever – I would still argue that Price is one of the best characters in the genre and he’s not even from a comic book! That’s just how strong of a performance Jackson delivers.
Originally intended to be a bit of different film, Shyamalan actually had a legitimate villain. Instead, he decided to really focus on David Dunn and his discovery of these gifts. How they effected his family and him personally. This is one of the strongest factors of Unbreakable. However, at the sane time, it’s also one of the things that rob it the most. With such a strong protagonist, we’re left with a rather weak antagonist – the man in orange. The film spends so much time building up its’ hero and the introduction of an antagonist feels rushed at best and ultimately makes the story suffer as a whole. Granted this isnn’t the real villain of the story – merely a sequence in the film’s climax. The actual reveal of the film’s real antagonist is utterly satisfying.
Overall, Unbreakable, is an emotionally driven cinematic experience. Brilliantly pacing itself with the story of a hero coping with powers and how it affects those he loves the most – Unbreakable is a genre piece that stands out among the men in tights. A true genre pioneer led marvelously from Bruce Willis & Samuel L. Jackson in its’ lead roles – proves not all supers wear capes. The film is robbed of its’ perfection by a couple of sequences in its’ climatic third act but rescued by Shyamalan’s signature twist prior to credits. Here is a superhero film worthy of all your attention.
And more importantly, if you or someone you know is struggling with suicide, addiction, self-harm or depression - please free feel to reach out. Use any our resources, call the suicide lifeline (1-800-273-8255) or text 741-741.
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