Unbreakable - M Knight Shayamalan's brilliant superhero film

10 November 2023

Unbreakable, directed by M. Night Shyamalan and starring Bruce Willis, is a thought-provoking and compelling film that offers a fresh take on the superhero genre. 

Released in 2000, it presents a more grounded and realistic approach to the idea of extraordinary abilities, setting itself apart from the typical blockbuster superhero films of today being the follow-up to the mega sleeper hit of The Sixth Sense

Reviewer Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)

The story follows David Dunn (Bruce Willis), an unassuming security guard, who miraculously survives a horrific train crash without a scratch. Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), a comic book art gallery owner with a brittle bone condition, believes that David possesses superhuman powers. As David begins to explore his newfound abilities, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery that blurs the line between hero and villain.

unbreakable gfilm review
Bruce Willis as David Dunn in Unbreakable

At the center of this narrative is David Dunn (Bruce Willis), a seemingly average joe security guard who survives a catastrophic train crash unscathed, an event setting the stage for a profound journey of self-discovery. The film intricately weaves its narrative, introducing Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), an art gallery owner with a condition causing fragile bones, who becomes the catalyst in David's exploration of his inexplicable survival. The interaction between Dunn and Price forms the core of the film, with their contrasting characteristics providing a rich narrative tapestry.

The film's strength is undoubtedly its deep character development. Bruce Willis, known for more action-oriented roles, brings a nuanced, subdued performance as David Dunn, effectively portraying the internal conflict of a man grappling with the reality of his extraordinary capabilities. 

Samuel L. Jackson's portrayal of Elijah Price is equally commendable, presenting a character whose vulnerability and complexity add layers to the film's thematic exploration. Their on-screen chemistry is palpable, driving the narrative forward with emotional depth and complexity.

M. Night Shyamalan's directorial expertise is evident in "Unbreakable." His use of a muted color palette not only sets a unique visual tone but also aids in grounding the story in a more realistic setting. The film's pacing is deliberate, allowing the story to unfold in a manner that prioritizes emotional depth and character arcs over fast-paced action sequences. This methodical pacing is one of the film's distinguishing features, emphasizing the internal journeys of its characters.

"Unbreakable" delves into the psychological and moral implications of possessing extraordinary abilities. It raises questions about destiny, morality, and the dichotomy of heroes and villains, offering a mature and introspective take on what it means to be a hero in the real world. This exploration sets the film apart from its contemporaries, providing a thought-provoking experience for its viewers.

The film's slower pace and emphasis on character over spectacle might not align with the expectations of viewers accustomed to action-driven superhero films. Its focus on psychological depth and character development might seem ponderous to some, but it is this very focus that lends the film its uniqueness. The twist ending, a hallmark of Shyamalan's storytelling, adds another layer of intrigue, leaving a lasting impression on the audience.

"Unbreakable" stands as a testament to the potential of the superhero genre to offer more than just escapism. It challenges the viewer to ponder the deeper implications of heroism in the real world. With its strong performances, intricate storyline, and Shyamalan's directorial prowess, the film remains a significant work in the realm of superhero cinema. It's a must-watch for those seeking a film that combines psychological depth with the exploration of the superhero mythos.


"Unbreakable," with its unique take on the superhero genre, marked the beginning of what would eventually become known as the "Eastrail 177 Trilogy," a series of films by M. Night Shyamalan. The development of this trilogy was an unconventional journey, one that wasn't initially planned as a multi-film saga. "Unbreakable" itself was met with mixed reactions upon its release in 2000, but over time, it garnered a cult following, with fans and critics alike appreciating its depth and subtlety in handling the superhero theme. This growing appreciation and the film's open-ended narrative provided the impetus for Shyamalan to revisit and expand upon its universe.

The second installment of the trilogy, "Split," was released in 2016, featuring James McAvoy in a stunning performance as Kevin Wendell Crumb, a man with multiple personalities, including the superhumanly powerful "The Beast." Intriguingly, "Split" was not immediately revealed to be part of the "Unbreakable" universe. It was only in its final moments that a cameo appearance by Bruce Willis' character, David Dunn, explicitly connected the two films. This surprise revelation excited fans and critics, demonstrating Shyamalan’s knack for unexpected storytelling twists. The trilogy was completed with "Glass" in 2019, which brought together characters from both "Unbreakable" and "Split." This final chapter sought to intertwine the narratives and themes of the previous films, culminating in a conclusion that attempted to deconstruct the superhero genre even further. 

The formation of the "Eastrail 177 Trilogy" is a testament to Shyamalan's evolving creative vision and the enduring appeal of "Unbreakable's" original premise.


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About the author Jimmy Jangles

My name is Jimmy Jangles, the founder of The Astromech. I have always been fascinated by the world of science fiction, especially the Star Wars universe, and I created this website to share my love for it with fellow fans.

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