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UNBREAKABLE: DVD

SYNOPSIS:
David Dunn (Bruce Willis) is a security guard at a large stadium, his marriage crumbling, his son anxious. When – amazingly - he is the sole survivor of a train disaster, he attracts the attention of Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), a man obsessed with comic book heroes, whose original artworks he sells in an upmarket gallery. Elijah has big, ambitious plans for David, which David is reluctant to follow, dismissing Elijah as a loony. But slowly he begins to realise that maybe Elijah has something… but he can’t know how bizarre some of that something is.

A pretty basic (crappy, to be frank) menu intros the DVD, but the film itself begins with a gripping, haunting power, which raises our expectations for another original yarn from M. Night Shayamalan (after The Sixth Sense), unfolding with cinematic flourishes.

After the opening scene, we jump to the present. David Dunn (Bruce Willis) is a security guard at a large stadium, his marriage crumbling, his son anxious. When – amazingly - he is the sole survivor of a train disaster, he attracts the attention of Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), a man obsessed with comic book heroes, whose original artworks he sells in an upmarket gallery. Elijah has big, ambitious plans for David, which David is reluctant to follow, dismissing Elijah as a loony. But slowly he begins to realise that maybe Elijah has something… but he can’t know how bizarre some of that something is.

In the opening scenes when we meet David on the train, we are held captive of a writer’s imagination. Every detail is stored for later reference, in case it matters. He has learnt his craft well, and has an intuitive sense for the dramatic, the teasing and pace of a genuine storyteller. As the central characters and their emotional landscapes are filled out, we are still drawn into the story and into this slightly unusual world. Bruce Willis is magnificent as the everyman who is being pushed towards something he hardly understands, let alone embraces in his make up (personality, not cosmetics).

The domestic turbulence around Willis’ character helps the portrait and gives it complexity, and Sam Jackson is magnetic as the literally brittle weirdo with comic book fantasies. It is not until the final third of the movie that the wheels start to fall off the script and the execution: melodrama replaces the real thing, symbolism replaces reality – and without success. Laboured and lumbering, the script’s major developmental pay-off suffers from a lack of originality and insufficient creative power. Like many writers, Shayamalan finds himself in a bind at the end, trying to make good on the promises of early flights of imagination. It isn’t so much the actual ending that’s the problem, but how we arrive there. Another couple of drafts might have saved the film’s crucial moments from being vaguely ridiculous, and it would have been worth the extra time and effort, because it really is a terrific premise.

And the DVD is worth a hire, and is technically terrific.
Andrew L. Urban

Published July 12, 2001

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UNBREAKABLE (M )
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CAST: Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Robin Wright, Spencer Treat Clark

DIRECTOR: M. Night Shyamalan

RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: June 13, 2001

SPECIAL FEATURES
None (scene selection)
Presentation: widescreen 2:35:1, 16:9 transfer, Dolby 5.1
Languages: English, Italian
Subtitles: English (HI), Italian







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