Breaking with this month’s tradition of selecting Academy Award nominees and winners from the past, I cannot think of a better film to go back and re-watch or discover for the first time than M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable. Talk about a movie ahead of its time, Unbreakable may fit that definition better than any other title this century. It predates the comic book phenomenon that has gripped movie theaters for the past decade or so. In fact at the time of its release there was only one X-Men movie released earlier that year and a dying Batman franchise. Why the need to go back and see it now? With Shyamalan’s Split cleaning up at the box office now is the best time to go back and experience the best film of Shyamalan’s career. That’s right, I said it. The whole country fell in love with him after his big twist at the end of The Sixth Sense (1999) that a year later they were not prepared to be walloped by a more subtle ending that definitely qualifies as a twist. Unbreakable is a genre meditation of the superhero film before we needed one. On it’s own it is the best script and direction Shyamalan has ever done and features great performances from its two leads Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson. They reflect each other the same way that Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment’s characters did in The Sixth Sense and the way James McAvoy’s villain and Anya Taylor-Joy’s victim do in Split. Unbreakable and Split are connected in many ways but outside of their stories they are also two films that do not rely on a gimmick or twist to make them effective. They rely on emotional responses from well developed characters and a tight script. They are also the two best films of M. Night Shyamalan’s career thus far.
Unbreakable is currently available to stream on HBO Go.
And here is a video that explains how Unbreakable and Split are tied together more than just thematically. Only watch this after you have seen both films. The video contains many spoilers.