Unbreakable

unbreakableposterwillisYear: 2000

Synopsis: David Dunn finds himself in a growing psychological slump, but after becoming the only survivor of a catastrophic train crash, he comes to learn unbelievable truths from a mysterious Elijah Price.

Pros:
• Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson play their roles perfectly.
• Injects harsh realism into the superhero genre, almost literally smashing the genre into its raw elements.
• Continues to be one of the most original of its genre, not being based on any specific superhero story.
• Overcomes the origin story narrative problems by making the viewer want to understand the reality of Dunn and Price.

Cons:
• Might feel a bit small scale next to today’s more epic superhero films.
• Tries too hard at times to be more realistic than other superhero films up to that point.
• The plot twist at the end was not hard to see coming for anyone familiar with the superhero genre.

Discussion:
Superhero films into the early 2000s were largely of the Time Burton Batman construct from 1989. There was considerable doom-and-gloom, but also considerable optimism within the generally fantastical setting. It was all also rather predictable. The villains were never really a match for the superhero. But by early 2000s, films with fresher DNA began to appear such as Unbreakable and Hancock (2008). There were true opposites, but the line between hero and villain showed signs of blurring. At the same time, consequences, internal and external, began to emerge in the narratives. David Dunn only ever wanted to be “normal,” even if he sensed how different he was from everyone else. So when the unbreakable man saw the chance to ensure a “normal” life, he faked a back injury. Yet, that sacrifice slowly ate at the natural hero’s psyche. On the opposite end, the always broken Elijah Price worked to understand his place in the world, and found a path through the stories of comic books. He became certain that he and everyone had true opposites, and let himself become a mass murderer to find his. Together, Dunn and Price learned who and what they truly were, and perhaps most importantly, how they embraced that hard reality before they even realized they did so. Perhaps the broken are more evolved …

Related:
Eastrail 177 Trilogy
Hancock


Rotten Tomatoes — 69%

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