Unbreakable

Unbreakable Die Hard Sequel

Action heroes, or more accurately the stars who play them, are not often credited as being endowed of great intelligence. In fact, they are more likely relegated to the less distinguished, but no less scientific category of dummy dumb dumbheads. And yet, scratch the surface of the career of each of the biggest, beefheadiest action stars and you will find, in addition to giant foreheads and a shocking dearth of necks, at least one self-aware introspection masquerading as a movie. It would appear that not being able to spell “existential crisis” does not preclude one from suffering one. These aren’t necessarily brilliant deconstructions, in fact they are usually somewhat clever with plenty of destruction. Regardless, it is an interesting trend to note and often amounts to some very underrated fare from our meta muscleheads. In one specific instance however, an action hero’s meta movie can be so meta as to conceal its true identity as such. Could it be that the greatest twist Shyamalan ever pulled was convincing the world it didn’t exist? We’ll get to the inarguable meta connection between Unbreakable and Die Hard shortly, but first, to understand this connection, it’s important to identify the inner-directed titles of our most elusive hero’s contemporaries.

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M. Night Shyamalan

When M. Night Shyamalan join the world of Twitter, I immediately thought, “This guy’s going to get slaughtered.” So far, it hasn’t been a slaughter, but neither has it been the warmest of welcomes. Right when it became aware the divisive director – and a director I still like, The Last Airbender and The Happening notwithstanding – the twist jokes came. So. Many. Twist. Jokes.

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A staple of comic book superhero movies is the origin story, and even though Hollywood is convinced audiences like seeing the same damn ones over and over (cough Spider Man Superman cough) it’s always refreshing to see new and original creations onscreen. One of the best (and most under-appreciated) is M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable. The film is a methodically paced exploration of both the hero and villain roles and features some powerful yet quiet scenes of the two men coming to terms with who and what they are. (The scene with Bruce Willis at the breakfast table silently acknowledging to his son his new found heroic nature remains one of Shyamalan’s greatest achievements.) Now imagine that same kind of fresh and creative take on the subject but infused with brutality, hope, and some stellar action and suspense scenes… A little boy with a prosthetic leg and a bandage over his eyes stumbles through the rain. He falls and tries to remove the fabric, but his mom abruptly grabs his hand and tells him he has to wear it at all times. The boy’s father arrives and begins to berate them both, taunting them that “Wrapping him up won’t make him human.” And then he begins to physically beat the woman. The boy’s tiny hands begin to clench and shake, he lifts one up to his face, and he removes the blindfold. The man stands, exits the house, and walks backwards through the rain until he’s in the middle of the […]

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The Happening

Yesterday Josh Radde reminded us that M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening will be hitting theaters this Friday along with The Incredible Hulk. Josh, who gave you permission to talk about that which we do not speak of?

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