Unbreakable
***.5 GM
Starring: Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Robin Wright Penn, Spencer Treat Clark, Charlayne Woodard

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All I knew about this movie was what the commercials told me and that it was Sixth-Sense Boy's new flick. The last thing I expected to see is what pretentious people will call "a redefinition of the superhero genre of film." It was a pleasant surprise, but not without its weak points.

Samuel L. Jackson is Elijah, who from an early age has the brittlest of brittle skeletons and is constantly injured, and has parlayed his constant bedridden life into a deep love and appreciation of the artistry of comic books. Bruce Willis is David, a guy who was able to survive a train wreck unscratched, and Elijah starts to believe that this guy is the opposite end of the breakability spectrum, and then struggles to get David to believe it. David has a son that you could swear is going to wind up seeing dead people.

It's a very slow-paced film, an attempt to bring the whole 'superhero' concept down to a very human level, and in that sense it works well, especially for a comic book geek like me. It's intense, fade-heavy and generally pretty cool. I always like watching Bruce Willis and Sam Jackson, and hearing Jackson spout off about the importance and intellectual significance of comic books is fun. The big twist ending isn't a jaw-dropper like "The Sixth Sense" was, but it was still a cool one, and felt natural if not entirely surprising. I didn't see it coming, but it wasn't something that completely changed my opinion of the film. The big problem I had is that, after building the story on slow-moving visuals and subdued movement between scenes, it ends with a couple of sentences flashed on the screen detailing what happened to the characters after the end. Some movies that fits for, but for this one it seemed almost jarringly out of place, although one could conceivably argue that it makes sense, considering that comic books are a main theme, and it ends somewhat like one.

Another couple nitpicky things that didn't sit completely right with me is that if Elijah is the kinda guy that is into the "art that is comics" so strongly, he'd probably be calling them graphic novels and not calling them comics all the time. I like me some comics, but every time he invoked them, it sounded wrong for some reason. It could be the knee-jerk reaction in me that feels most people are going to roll their eyes and scoff at the mention of the word 'comics.' Then again, Elijah's a few bailiffs short of a "Night Court," so maybe scoffing isn't all that bad a reaction to have.

Also, the answering machine message Elijah leaves for David seems odd as well. Maybe I'm just not grasping it correctly, but a hardcore comics lover isn't going to declare 'water is his kryptonite' just because it's possible for him to drown. Maybe it's also possible for him to choke on a hunk of cheese. Maybe if he swallows a few nails, it can tear up his insides - maybe it's only his outside that's unbreakable. This is the type of overanalysis that comic folks do. They don't just say 'oh, he almost drowned once? That means water is his weakness. Maybe I missed something.

Bottom line, though, is that it was really cool. Maybe there'll be sequels. I wonder if his superhero codename will be Unbreakable Man. Or maybe Super Dave.

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