Better Late than Never: Unbreakable Review

With Glass hitting theaters recently I had to go back and watch Unbreakable to see what I missed from prime M. Night Shyamalan.

Last year I finally broke down and decided to see what all of the Game of Thrones hype was about. As I did so, I decided to do a “Better Late than Never” recap of each season. Seeing as how I have a ton of classic movies and shows that I will have to watch at some point, I liked the concept and decided I’d make it a recurring thing for the site.

Fast-forward and M. Night Shyamalan is releasing the third movie in his super hero universe. I saw Split when it was released and thought it was great, but I had not seen Unbreakable. I was 12 when it came out so even if I had seen it I would have needed a refresher but I was curious how you could make a universe work when the first and 3rd entries were so far apart.

With that, I decided that Unbreakable will be the first movie in the Better Late than Never series.

The concept

As a fan of the super hero genre and a person who has to find a logical explanation for everything in his real life, I have been fascinated with the idea of merging the two. The idea that there could be people existing among us with abilities and we would never know is a fun one. Where the Marvel and DCU universes are all about big chase scenes, fights that destroy cities, and alien invasions. What if there were people whose abilities were more subtle and less… loud?

Knowing M. Night, and having seen Split I expected this movie to be done well and just needed the baseline to see why people were divided on Glass.

Execution

In Unbreakable, Bruce Willis’ character David Dunn is the lone survivor of a train crash. Miraculous, maybe, but things like this occur in real life all the time. He would have been in the news but no one would have suggested that he was a person with abilities. Not seriously. So I liked that there was almost no outside speculation about his being enhanced.

That was all left to Samuel L. Jackson’s character, Mr. Glass.

unbreakable-samuel-l-jackson-1108x0-c-default

Now one of my least favorite things about M. Night’s movies is his over-exposition (having characters unnecessarily explain what’s happening.) In Unbreakable he did a bit of this, mostly through Glass, but it’s something I’ve come to accept from him. In this movie it made sense because Glass was so fascinated by the idea of there being real life heroes. It makes for somewhat goofy dialogue at times but that was fine in this context.

At one point in the film, Mr. Glass explains that he believes that there are people with abilities and that they probably wouldn’t even realize they had them. This makes sense to me as well, again, in the context of the real world. I often find myself saying that Zion Williamson definitely has abilities, but I don’t actually believe it. Bruce Willis’ character was apparently a great football player who gave it up for his wife. He’d have had very little other reason to exert himself since that accident and was likely just viewed as a “beast” of an athlete when he was playing.  No one would have thought too hard about him being a hard tackler or never getting injured on the football field. He could have personally explained ripping the door off of a car to save his girlfriend as simply adrenaline. I’ve read stories of mothers lifting cars off of their children before.

All of this to say, I felt good about him being able to exist in the world without having drawn too much scrutiny or thought too hard about his potential enhancement. The only moment that did come off as goofy was him never having benched more than 250. It’s hard to accept that he wouldn’t have been pushing himself in the weight room as a football player but I didn’t need that scene, however drawn out it was, to make or break the film for me.

(Side Note: Robin Wright!)

I was not familiar with Robin Wright or her career before House of Cards so seeing her in this was a pleasant surprise. I’d say she’s come a long way but I later realized she played Jenny in Forrest Gump so really she’s just had a full career.

Overall

I really enjoyed Unbreakable. Having now seen all three movies I have to say they are each very different and each were good in their own way. Unbreakable does a great job of slow-playing the reveal of his abilities and doesn’t have him going over the top to show them off. Unbreakable got me excited to watch Glass and also worried me that M. Night had messed up something with a great foundation based on what I was hearing about the end of the trilogy.

This wasn’t a true review since this wasn’t a new movie but I will definitely be reviewing Glass this week.

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