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By Sharon Fulton
M. Night Shyamalan devotes an entire movie, "Unbreakable", to the subject addressed in the first 10 minutes of "Superman". A normal man discovers that he is a superhero. I am a fan of the super hero genre, and many comic book aficionados will appreciate that "Unbreakable" breaches this "how I stumbled upon my super powers" topic in a new way. However, as I sat through this long build up of a movie, I kept wishing that Bruce Willis could start using his powers as quickly as Superman.
As "Unbreakable" begins, we find a bald David Dunne (Willis) on a train, and we watch as this married man tries to pick up an attractive blond. He seems very human. Suddenly, the train begins to shake, and we cut away to a hospital. We watch a man die in the foreground as Willis sits unscathed in the background. The doctor puzzles over this single survivor of the unseen train wreck.
Dunne and his wife (Robin Wright Penn) stroll out of the hospital through the masses of mourners. We return with them to their sick marriage and scared son (Spencer Treat Clark). Life returns to normal for this "everyman", and we accompany the very flat and monotone Dunne through his daily routine. He works at the Penn Football Stadium as a security guard. (Penn's stadium is featured in the movie as well as 30th Street station, As a local, I think this setting is pretty darn nifty.) After he goes to the memorial service of the train victims, Dunne receives an anonymous note: "Have you ever been sick?"
Samuel L. Jackson wrote the note, and he has a lot of fun in this movie. Jackson plays Elijah Price, an eccentric rare comic book dealer who has a peculiar malady. Price's bones are brittle, and he tells us that he has broken had 56 different breaks. Price also wears silver and purple suits. Jackson speaks powerfully, and he blows Willis's dry David Dunne off the screen. Elijah Price thinks that David Dunne may be on the other end of the spectrum. If his bones are too breakable, there must be someone with "unbreakable" bones. A super hero if you will.
For most of the film, Price tries to convince Dunne that he wields super powers. He hints that destiny is goading Dunne onto super hero-dom. Elijah Price asks him pointed questions like, "Why do you think you chose "SECURITY" as a profession?" Although parts of "Unbreakable" are entertaining and thrilling, I found Willis's extended (perhaps months long) realization a bit boring.
Well, you may know already that Shyamalan throws another "surprise ending" into "Unbreakable", and I will not divulge the end. Still, I feel the need to tell you a surprise is waiting because the expectation kept me awake during the dull parts. However, I predicted it, and I found myself somewhat disappointed.
I liked "Unbreakable", but it pales compared to "The Sixth Sense". I do not think Shyamalan would have received the same amount of attention if "Unbreakable" preceded "Sense." Still, I recommend this movie: enjoy the fun parts, "I Spy" Philly landmarks, relish Jackson's Elijah Price, and wait for the end.