M. Night Shyamalan has big shoes to fill (his own) with his follow-up to last year's hit "The Sixth Sense." He makes an attempt to do so with "Unbreakable" (IMDb listing). In it, security guard David Dunn (Bruce Willis) is the sole survivor of a train wreck that kills hundreds. Enter Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), a mysterious stranger who offers Dunn a simple explanation with the most life-altering of consequences.
"Unbreakable" doesn't sport the surprise ending that "The Sixth Sense" did (no one's dead in this movie), but there are a few twists and turns involving the identity and substance of both Dunn and Price. The story was interesting, to say the least. The dynamics of David and Elijah's relationship are thought-provoking, particularly as it unfolds and changes. Relationships are an important part of this film from David and his wife to David and his son; from Elijah and his mother to Elijah and David they're all connected. Shymalan has also inserted touches of comic books and superheros, adding the same mystery and mayhem that makes comic books such great reads.
While I've never been a fan of his, Willis effectively brings an everyman quality to Dunn, and Jackson is both creepy and alluring as the mysterious comic art gallery owner, Elijah Price. With only a small supporting role as David's son, Joseph, it was highly unlikely Shyamalan could get Haley Joel Osment to star in "Unbreakable." Instead, he cast Spencer Treat Clark ("Gladiator") who, fortunately, has a minimal amount of screen time. The chemistry between Willis and Clark is strained at best.
Robin Wright-Penn has a small role as David's wife, Audrey. Playing a middle-class housewife, her natural good looks have been toned down with dull brown hair, but her radiant beauty still shines through. Unfortunately, her role was not as big as I hoped. Her character is only there to give Dunn nuance and background.
"Unbreakable" has potential and will probably have a great box-office return as it rides on the coattails of "The Sixth Sense."
Filmfodder Grade: B+