Black Widow has finally hit the big screen and will no doubt appease fans who have been hungering for a new Marvel movie. Prior to the acquisition of Marvel, Disney had mixed success with comic book movies. In honor of the coming blockbuster, we look back at 2000’s Unbreakable.

The Plot

A lone survivor of a deadly train derailment, David Dunn has a second chance at life while answering some deeper personal questions. When he meets Elijah Price, a comic book aficionado, Dunn starts to suspect there is more to his survival than just luck.

The deeper he dives into past events Dunn starts to believe that what Price tells him about being a superpowered being is a possibility. Combined with the proof of never having been sick and surviving the train accident, Dunn tells Price about his ‘sixth sense’ of being able to tell when people are up to no good. This skill comes in handy for Dunn as a security officer at the local stadium.

Fueled by Price’s encouragement, Dunn embraces his abilities and saves a couple of kidnapped kids. Just when he is acknowledging the truth about himself, Dunn also learns that every ‘superhero’ has a ‘villain’.

Cinematic Compliments

Bruce Willis should be applauded for his approach to bringing David Dunn to life. He could have gone the route of building a heroic and outgoing character like his previous work. Dunn is a likeable hero, and though we know he is flawed from the first few moments on screen, it’s easy to root for his success thanks to Willis.

Samuel L. Jackson doesn’t get enough respect for his work. His talent is abundant, and in the role of Elijah, Jackson shines his brightest. Not only do we feel sympathy for Elijah, but we start to believe his journey throughout the film that when the ending comes, it’s shocking because even though the clues have been present all along, Jackson makes Price so likeable that we ignore the obvious shards of truth.

Cinematic Complaints

This is not your standard comic book film. The movie never ramps up the action like most comic inspired films of today. Instead, it is a character study with slow revelations that seem to be the opposite of what comic book films do in today’s market. If you are looking for an action-packed explosion fest, Unbreakable is not for you.

Robin Wright does not get much to do on screen. She spends more time in the background than having a significant role in the plot. I wish she had more to do.

Fun Film Facts

  • Shyamalan was nominated for a Nebula Award for Best Script for Unbreakable.
  • This is reportedly M. Night Shyamalan’s favorite of his movies.
  • Unlike many films, Unbreakable was shot in sequence.
  • Charlayne Woodward may play Samuel L. Jackson’s mom in the film, is only five years younger than the actor.
  • Unbreakable was the fourth film to unite Willis and Jackson on screen.
  • Julianne Moore could have played the part of Audrey but turned it down to assume the role of Clarice Starling in Hannibal.
  • Michael Kelly plays the ER doctor that treats Dunn at the beginning of the film. He would go on to costar with Robin Wright in House of Cards.
  • Director M. Night Shyamalan has a cameo in the film as a drug dealer at the stadium.
  • When Dunn’s son threatens to shoot him to prove he has superpowers, the scene was inspired by real events. Actor George Reeves who played Superman on television during the 1950’s, was once confronted by a fan with a gun threatening to shoot him to prove he was really Superman. Reeves was able to deescalate the situation by convincing the boy that the bullet would bounce off him and hurt someone else.
  • The disease that Jackson’s character suffers from is real, though very rare.
  • 2016’s Split takes place in the same universe as Unbreakable. Prior to Dunn confronting the drug dealer at the stadium, Dunn passes a mother and young boy where we see signs of child abuse. These characters are believed to be Kevin Crumb played by James McAvoy, and his mother which we meet in Split.
  • Purple, which Elijah Price wears a lot in the film, is Samuel L. Jackson’s favorite color.
  • Unbreakable has two follow up films, Split and Glass.

The Golden Popcorn Bucket Award

Unbreakable brings a subtle more personal performance by Bruce Willis, which he continues from his first pairing with director M. Night Shyamalan. Samuel L. Jackson brings to life a complicated character that can be friend and foe. While the film is a creative new spin on the comic book film, there is something missing from the movie.

I love the fact that Unbreakable is a comic book movie, but it spends too much time trying to be a filmed comic book, and not enough time being a movie inspired by comic books. I could see the shots that were framed like a panel from the comic pages, and while this nod to the comics is great, it slows down the movie.

I give Unbreakable a 2 and ½ Golden Popcorn Bucket Award. It’s a good film which has trouble measuring up to the brilliance of the director’s debut film. Unbreakable spends too much time wondering if it’s a comic book film, or a comic book on screen.

Coming Attractions

With shark fest beginning on National Geographic, we look back at another popular shark film, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.

Production Credits

Directed by M. Night Shyamalan

Produced by Touchstone Pictures / Blinding Edge Pictures


  • Bruce Willis as David Dunn
  • Samuel L. Jackson as Elijah Price
  • Robin Wright as Audrey  
  • Spencer Treat Clark as Joseph
  • Charlayne Woodard as Elijah’s Mom      

Release Date: November 22, 2000

Budget: $75 million

Box Office Gross

Domestic: $95,011,339

Worldwide Total: $248,118,121