The primary difference between M. Night Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense and his follow-up film, Unbreakable, may be that the director's first outing crescendoed into a secret that was worth guarding. In sharp contrast, Unbreakable concludes with title cards telling us what happens next. It's a cinematic cop-out of the highest scale. Following his own formula wasn't the best way to score another hit, especially since the trademark twists aren't as crucial or compelling the second time around. To be true, Unbreakable shares the slow supernatural lucidity of its predecessor. Shyamalan coaxes an even better performance out of Bruce Willis. The writer-director includes spooky revelations and wry humor, just not with enough believability to sweep away the suspicion that Willis and Shyamalan just want to cash in on The Sixth Sense by releasing a lesser movie harnessed to the same look and stylistic feel.
The plot, to the extent that there is one, centers around the unlikely duo of David Dunn (Bruce Willis) and Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson). After emerging from a disastrous train wreck without a scratch, David learns that everyone else aboard has died. A comic book aficionado (Jackson) notable for a powerful afro and ominously brittle bones contacts David with disturbing information. David—a simple, if melancholic, security guard—faces the possibility of unlikely superherodom.
While Willis and Jackson give carefully nuanced performances, no other character is fully developed. Shyamalan knows how to weave a tale with understatement and unhurried pacing. This time, however, a further departure from The Sixth Sense template would have been a more welcome and effective tactic.
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