Monday, July 31, 2006

Movie Log: Unbreakable

The Wife and I watched this last night, which means I'm, for once, caught up on my movie posts. Why did no one warn me about this movie?

M. Night Shamalyan might just be the most self-satisfied filmmaker in the history of the world, and I say that having just seen one and only one of his more minor movies. Unbreakable has some of the most obvious, the most cliched, and the most intrusive camera moves I have ever seen. I don't think there's a single shot in this movie that is allowed to just exist; everything is framed and juxtaposed, with curtains wafting in front and heavenly light streaming in back. He's also far-too-fond of the Muddy Scene With One Character In a Bright Color -- the repetition of that trick four times in a row in the Grand Central scene led me to call out, "I get it -- people who wear bright colors are evil!" (And, really, it's not that foggy inside Grand Central.)

Oh boy is this one a mess. Bruce Willis plays the nearly wordless David, who, on the evidence of this movie, majored in College Stadium Security and immediately went to work in his chosen field (at the amazing University Stadium, which has at least two college football games a week, one during the middle of a weekday!). I am amazed that roving security guard at a college football stadium is a full-time, all-year job, but apparently it is in Shamalyan's world. Oh, and David is also the sole survivor of the train wreck that is this movie in the opening credits. (He survived both that and a flashback car-crash without a scratch on his person, proving that he has a John-Byrne-Superman force-field to protect his clothes.) Samuel L. Jackson is his new-found best friend, the amazing Elijah, who runs a comics art gallery at which he refuses to sell a crappy piece of original art to Unnamed Yuppie 1 for his 4-year-old, but lives in an apartment where all of his presumably-valuable comics are displayed on shelves carefully placed to maximize the damage done to them by the sun. Elijah believes David needs to use his powers for good, though he doesn't quite put it that way. And Elijah is just as fragile as David is...dare I say it?...unbreakable, with bones that shatter if you look at them sideways. (Subtlety, I'm beginning to guess, is not one of Shamalyan's strong points.)

David is having Unspecified Marital Trouble with his long-suffering wife -- oh, and, they seem to live in a very large, nice house on his stadium security drone salary (yes, he's salaried, rather than working on an hourly wage -- this is a plot point!), perhaps enhanced by the money wifey makes as a physical therapist. (Maybe that's not so unlikely; Unbreakable is set in Philadelphia, where housing prices aren't all that high, comparatively). That's one of the major problems of Unbreakable -- far too much of it is unspecified. Everybody's backstory is vague, and nobody talks about anything interesting, useful, or on-topic. (David is practically mute, the wife says the same things over and over again, and Elijah just rants in a very un-geekly nonspecific manner about comics.)

I haven't even mentioned the part where Elijah triumphantly declares that David's superhero weakness is water -- and the movie takes it seriously! Really, this film is just a parade of unbelievable things loosely held together by moody cinematography. I'd vaguely wanted to see this movie for five years for the comic-book connection, but it was not worth it. It's probably a good movie to make fun of, though...


RobB said...

I tried on at least 3 separate occasions to watch this movie and take it seriously. I like M. Night's Sixth Sense, I've enjoyed some of Bruce Willis's movies and even more of Sam Jackson's movies.

This thing put me to sleep each and every time and was, like you say, VERY self-indulgent.

The pacing. Is.








A.R.Yngve said...

Have you noticed how water is used as a hoary plot device in both UNBREAKABLE and SIGNS...?

Water is to M.Night Shyamalan what moccasins are to Fenimore Cooper... they use barrels and barrels of the stuff.

Anonymous said...

I thought that what was in this film might well have made a good first half hour first act of a superhero movie. Sadly, it got inflated far beyond its merits...

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