One filmmaker whose work I generally despise is M. Night Shyamalan. His movies are–to put it mildly–mostly stupid. I was first talked into going to see his movie “The Sixth Sense”. I concluded that it was insipid and predictable. It wasn’t without a good performance from Bruce Willis, and that was the only thing that kept me from walking out on it.
In addition, I have seen (or tried to watch) a host of his other films. Either out of boredom or at the request of friends who actually do enjoy his movies. They were pretty much all complete failures for me, except for one movie.
“Unbreakable”. That was the only movie from Shyamalan that I have seen which I quite enjoyed. Yes, it is a silly superhero movie. But he plucked out most of the goofy ideas of the superhero theme and–as much as was possible–turned it all into something almost realistic. For the first time in my life I watched a filmmaker actually create a superhuman project that really was (to quote the silly meme from the 1980s) “not just for children anymore”.
He removed the idea of spandex costumes. He dispensed with secret identities, headquarters, allies, and other such fantasies. One of the things I rather did like about the film is that the superhero in the movie doesn’t even realize that he is such until someone tweaks it out of him. And then it becomes an inner conflict of whether the protagonist is, in fact, superhuman, or just mentally disturbed. In addition, the powers that the hero has are almost believable. Not quite, but just enough for me to be able to enjoy the movie as something approaching logic–tremendous strength, a high level of immunity from physical damage, and a measure of telepathy that is so vague it even confuses the hero. Yeah, I could dig it.
Also, it didn’t hurt that it starred Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson, two actors whose work I sometimes enjoy. Both of them tend to deliver questionable performances from time to time, but now and again they will also surprise me with particularly convincing portrayals.
It was because of “Unbreakable” that I relented and tried to watch a string of his other movies which were absolutely awful and made me wonder if the writer/director is a moron (and also how anyone would continue to give him the vast amounts of cash it requires to make a major film these days). These later movies were so awful that the very mention of his name ended up filling me with a sense of disgust.
I never did see “Split”, his movie about a man who is besieged by multiple personalities. Because I had already seen or tried to watch “Signs”, “The Village”, “The Happening”, and “After Earth”. I turned all of those off because they were so horrid in every way I could mention. The man was, I had to admit, a manufacturer of shit.
Except for that one movie, “Unbreakable”.
Later I read that he is doing a sequel to “Unbreakable”, and that his previous movie “Split” is actually part of his superhero trilogy. Therefore, I will go to see “Glass”, his new movie, the final film in his trilogy. I’ll also rent “Split” to see if it’s his usual awful material. Maybe he’ll surprise me.
Or maybe I’ll have been suckered again. I’ll let you know.
|Bruce Willis as the unbreakable superhero, here trying to use his confusing ability of extra-sensory powers.|
|James McAvoy as the monstrous “Beast”. (I wonder what kind of a deal they had to work with Marvel Comics/Disney for the use of that hame.)|
|Samuel L. Jackson as the dapper evil genius, Mr. Glass.|