DID ANYTHING BREAK IN “UNBREAKABLE?”

CRITIC DOCTOR EXAMINES: Ron Wells (filmthreat.com), Jay Carr (Boston Globe), Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun Times), Steven Rea (Philadelphia Inquirer), Lou Lumenick (New York Post), Mike Clark (USA TODAY), Mark Caro (Chicago Tribune), Robert W. Butler (Kansas City Star), Bruce Kirkland (Toronto Sun), Steven Rosen (Denver Post), Vladimir Lacas (AM840 KXNT), Jay Boyar (Orlando Sentinel), Chris Gore (X-Show/FX Channel) and Dave White (ifilm.com).
* * * out of 4 stars (PG-13)
I use to believe that any movie that had a bad ending wasn’t worth watching – at least not in a movie theater. However, “Unbreakable” shattered my theory to bits.
“Unbreakable” is a film about David Dunn (Bruce Willis) who is the lone survivor of a horrible train accident. Not one scratch. Not one bruise. What does all this all mean? Dunn is approached by Elijah Price (Samuel Jackson), a comic book dealer, who seems to know the answer. What follows is an intriguing story, written by M. Night Shyamalan (“The Sixth Sense”), and is unlike anything we’ve quite seen before.
Ron Wells (filmthreat.com) said, “How you react to this material will probably determine your response to the big shocker at the end.” Indeed! But the shocker, Ron, is not a positive one. Most movie critics I’ve read were totally disgusted by the way this film ended and I join in their frustration. Here’s just a sample of some rants:
- “‘Unbreakable’ is a film that begins with a train wreck and then, figuratively speaking, becomes one.” Jay Carr (Boston Globe)
- “I mentioned the ending. I was not quite sold on it. It seems a little arbitrary, as if Shyamalan plucked it out of the air and tried to make it fit.” Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun Times)
- “A literally tacked-on conclusion.” Steven Rea (Philadelphia Inquirer)
- “The ending made me want to pull out my hair. The single most disappointing moment of film footage this year.” Dave White (ifilm.com)
- “I’ve stopped short of giving ‘Unbreakable’ four stars because I felt somewhat let down by the closing scene, which I suspect may be more fiercely debated than the mother of all surprise endings in ‘The Sixth Sense.’” Lou Lumenick (New York Post)
- “A rude climatic fizzle.” Mike Clark (USA TODAY)
- “The ultimate let-down is especially frustrating given what a hypnotic spell the film casts for the bulk of its duration.” Mark Caro (Chicago Tribune)
- “‘Unbreakable’ works beautifully right up to the point where it practically self-destructs.” Robert W. Butler (Kansas City Star)
- “The film ends shattered and broken.” Bruce Kirkland (Toronto Sun)
- “The surprise ending here is as bad as ‘Sixth Sense’s’ was good.” Steven Rosen (Denver Post)
If there is ever a Top 10 List made of bad movie endings, “Unbreakable” will take the number one spot. Why? Ironically, because “Unbreakable” was so darn good! Of course, there are those critics who actually liked the film’s end – and were even fooled by it.
Vladimir Lacas (AM840 KXNT) said, “‘Unbreakable’ has a shocker of a surprise ending, though the “The Sixth Sense” has a slightly better one.”
Slightly? FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, Vladimir! You are comparing the MOTHER of all best endings with the worst film finale in history. The only shocker here is that the same writer fathered both movies.
Jay Boyar (Orlando Sentinel) said about the movie’s ending, “Its overwhelming horror hit me more powerfully than a locomotive, and that, after I knew what it was, I couldn’t believe I had overlooked it. Days later, I still find myself obsessed with that twist.”
When I watched the end of this move, Jay, it was like I had some kind of sixth sense. It was no big surprise. It wasn’t near as subtle as “The Sixth Sense” and when the pieces did fall together – it didn’t shock. It fell apart. Why? To say more would run the risk of giving away too much of the plot. But my wife got it right when she said, “The end sucked!”
No matter what critics say about the film’s end, get your rear-end into movies theaters and see this film. Chris Gore said in his segment of “Gorey Details” on the X-Show (FX Network), “It’s friggin’ amazing.”
This is probably the most negative review I will ever write about a movie I liked so much. It’s an absorbing movie worthy of three stars. I’d like to say more, but my lips are unbreakable. Just go see it.
Dave White (ifilm.com) summed the movie up best: “Up until the final moment, it’s a moody, elegant, simmeringly suspenseful and moving film. But that ending. Damn, that amputated, deflated, maddening, ‘That’s IT?!’ ending.”
“Unbreakable” may break apart in the end, but I will be eager to see Shyamalan pick up the pieces in a sequel.
I hope this is not THE END.
–CRITIC DOCTOR




Posted on December 5, 2000 in Features by
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