unbreakableUnbreakable is about an Everyman (Bruce Willis) who gradually sees that he is the hero in a comic book version of his life. Like its hero, the movie marvels at what happens.

Everyman is a security guard for a college in Philly. He survives a deadly train wreck — unharmed. Guilt-stricken and a bit bewildered, he meets a comic book collector (Samuel L. Jackson), a fragile, luckless man who knows Everyman more than Everyman knows himself.

The director, M. Night Shayamalan, specializes in jumped-up episodes of The Twilight Zone. He paces the twists and turns of the plot. He puts vibe over spectacle. He can be hokey (after all, The Sixth Sense is a shaggy-dog ghost story); but in spirit he belongs to a bygone era — the golden age of fantastic fiction, when writers like Bradbury, Bloch and Matheson noshed on pepperoni sticks at each other’s cabanas1.

For three reasons, Unbreakable is his best film yet: the older cast, the depth of character, and the way the end leaves an air of mystery. In some respects, Kick-Ass (2010, dir. Matthew Vaughn) is similar. The characters grapple with themselves. They craft their personas in a world that is yoked to the myth of superheroes. Good or bad, they try to make a difference. But Kick-Ass paints a broken world in which everything is breakable. The only wonder is that some of the characters live to tell. Unbreakable goes that film one better. It says that improbabilities exist; things happen that should not. And, as knowable as it is, the human spirit is a puzzle. So, wittingly or not, we create our life’s narrative, to make some sense of it all.

It is a deep flick.

1I doubt this happened, but I like the image.

About Jack Cormack

Email Jack at jackyboy916@gmail.com.