Making the Grades
With high expectations, Touchstone Pictures backed M. Night Shyamalan (writer/director of The Sixth Sense ) in Unbreakable, another feature set in Philadelphia and starring Bruce Willis. With so much in common with his last Academy Award nominated effort, perhaps the world was awaiting The Seventh Sense...
This time Willis's character is David Dunn, the lone survivor of a huge train wreck. Although David is unable to understand how he survived the calamity, he meets a man named Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) who offers a preposterous explanation. Convinced the world is like a comic book, full of heroes and antiheroes, Elijah believes he has finally discovered his own opposite in David--a man who is unbreakable.
With bones that snap like pencils due to a genetic disease, Elijah has lived his whole life afraid of his fragility. As a child his mother had to bait him with comic books, just to get him to go outside. So it is not surprising that as an adult, Elijah has become obsessive about comics, even earning his living selling collectable comic art in an uptown gallery.
Becoming an unwelcome intrusion in David's life, Elijah is determined to make this common security guard recognize his invincibility is an extraordinary gift that should be used to do good in the world. David could probably dismiss the whole thing as crazy if it wasn't for another ability he possesses. He can see atrocities other people have committed just by brushing past them.
This talent allows the movie to include some troubling depictions, including what looks like the opening to a date rape and a home invasion leading to murder. When David decides to follow one of these perpetrators back to the scene of the crime, his heroic efforts provides the audiences with disturbing images, including a beaten dead woman bound to a radiator and two teen girls tied up in a closet.
Feeling no empathy for either of Unbreakable's two main characters (something The Sixth Sense was able to accomplish even though it also presented graphic content), I found this unconvincing story that resorted to trite explanatory statements written on the screen prior to the credits, to be senseless.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Unbreakable.
How did Elijah’s single-minded interest in comics, which began when he was a child, distort his perspective of reality? What can we learn about the importance of having a variety of interests in our lives—especially when we are young?
In one scene of this movie, David’s son tries to convince his father that he is invincible, and threatens to shoot his Dad to prove it. While the son believes that this action will cause no harm to his father, could this portrayal of using a firearm and expecting no harmful consequences, be dangerous to some viewers? What kind of respect should be given to firearms? Have there ever been times in your life when you have mistakenly believed you were invincible? (Perhaps these confessions could provide a good discussion with your teens about reckless behaviors… providence… guardian angels?)
Be aware this film will likely bring any fears your children may have over violent crimes or the safety of their home, to the surface. You may want to take the opportunities to talk to them about these topics before 3:00 A.M.