Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Shyamalan’s greatest masterpiece
M. Night Shyamalan is a very well-known name, and for good reason. Within a timespan of just under five years, Shyamalan released three incredibly well-done movies: The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and Signs. His unique vision for film and different approaches towards storytelling made him a household name. Everyone wanted to see his next piece of art, and many people even began to call him the next Hitchcock or Spielberg because he was so different than everyone else. After the three films mentioned above were released, his movies just started to dramatically decline in the level of…uniqueness the others brought. This leads me to believe that those initial three were all stories Shyamalan had already thought of for several years when he was a young filmmaking lad…he simply ran out of ideas and had to come up with new ones in less time…so those weren’t typically as entertaining. I, however, have a theory as to what shouldn’t have changed, but we’ll get to that later. First off, let’s dive right into the review for one of Shyamalan’s greatest masterpieces, Unbreakable.
David Dunn (Bruce Willis) is a security guard that has just narrowly escaped death. After a train derailed, instantly killing everybody on board, David walks out without a broken bone or even a single scratch. He is immediately contacted by Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), a man who is completely obsessed with comic books and heroes, to the point where he started up a theory that comic books were a form of exaggerated tales of history. Price, already being a man that can easily break bones, is convinced that David is a modern version of a comic book superhero. David does not believe in Price’s allegations at first, but bit by bit, things begin to happen around him that suggests otherwise, that maybe he can do this or that…but of course, Elijah could just be sick in the mind.
This was back in the day where Shyamalan would borrow cast members from previous works, and who better than to grab the man that made The Sixth Sense such a smashing success, Bruce Willis. Again, Willis delivers another unbelievable performance. The acting in this film was believable from all parties. This wasn’t one of those films where only the title character carried the acting, everyone, even down to David’s son and even random extras that show up at different intervals knew exactly what they were doing, and they do a phenomenal job.
The music, oh how the music is beautiful. The story is unique…I mean we see stories about superheroes everywhere…everywhere, and despite things here and there changed, they are still the same stories we have heard a thousand times before. This film had an original story that was both compelling and intense. The use of the camera angles is so well done it is a shock that Unbreakable is not at the top of everyone’s favorite Shyamalan film. It is masked under the presumption that it is moving slowly, because in reality…a lot is going on.
Now, here’s where Shyamalan went wrong after the three greats, they all had a similar feel and rhythm to how things played out, and try to stay with me here as I describe that feel. There is a lot going on in the movie that is detrimental. There really aren’t many filler scenes, at all, BUT, the scenes are written to feel like filler so you miss things the first time around. How many of you recognize a classic Shyamalan movie as containing several quiet shots, many wide angles, with an important physical element? In The Sixth Sense, that physical element was the color red, it was really important every time a red object was shown. For Unbreakable, that element was glass and reflections, and for Signs, that element was water. All of these movies also implemented an innocent, everyday kid that just comes off as strange. Why? Mostly because of the way they spoke…really soft and calm with wide eyes and a worried demeanor.
When Shyamalan moved on to other projects, he got rid of most of these things that really made his films pop out with vigor…and people started to get disappointed, and still are disappointed today…BUT, what people haven’t done, is forgotten his name. I believe somewhere deep down, the audience that grew up with his masterpieces continually wait for him to go back to his roots, despite the flops that he has typically released for the last…nearly ten years (I haven’t seen After Earth, so I can’t say that movie is good or bad yet).
I am a fan of Shyamalan for a specific reason. How he began is how I began. Ever since I could remember me and my family have made our own movie projects, and that is exactly what Shyamalan did. He came up with ideas when he was just a boy, and worked his butt off to get into the business. He implemented those ideas, wrote, produced, and directed his films…even made a cameo in several of them. I can respect the man for achieving his dreams, and I know that if he can do that, then he can possibly get back to where he began, but I understand it may be a while before that happens. All good things come in time.