Dir: M. Night Shyalaman
Star: Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Robin Wright Penn
Cert / Year: 12 - PG13 / 2001
Format: DVD R2

Whilst travelling home to Philadelphia from a job interview, the train on which David Dunn ( Bruce Willis) is travelling de-rails into the path of an oncoming freight train which promptly collides with it. Dunn wakes up in hospital surrounded by bereaved families and hospital staff curious as to why there is only one survivor of the train accident and how he is miraculously completely unscathed. Even David Dunn himself is shocked by his completely uninjured state and of the fact that all of his fellow passengers on the train died. Unable to offer any explanations for either the accident or his survival, Dunn leaves the hospital almost as stunned and shocked as everyone else.

Dunn attempts to come to terms with his survival and after he attends a memorial service for the victims of the accident, he finds a strange note attached to his windshield enquiring how many days off work he has had due to illness. Puzzled by such a strange note and unable to remember the last time he had been sick, Dunn asks his employer and his wife (Robin Wright Penn) neither of whom can ever remember him being ill at all. Perplexed by this information, Dunn tracks down the person who left him the note in the hope that he may have some answers. Dunn arrives at "Limited Edition" a Comic Art Gallery owned by the strange Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson). After they talk at length Dunn is shocked an disturbed by Price's unbelievable explanation for his survival, surely this odd ball has been hanging around his comics for far too long.

Okay, to be honest the film is slow paced and doesn't rush in any way to get anywhere. This isn't entirely a bad thing though and it does create some genuine character development, as the story slowly unfolds. By the end of the film (102 Minutes) you can appreciate the ironic twists within the plot and empathize with at least one of the characters. I didn't find the film as painfully predictable as The Sixth Sense but the ending wasn't exactly a big surprise either. The story itself "borrows" from the likes of The Survivor for some of the plot basis but much of it is original and new. If you watch this film and expect to see a sequel to The Sixth Sense you will most likely be very dissappointed, as this film has nothing to do with it whatsoever.

This film is nicely directed by M. Night Shyamalan and has a moody soundtrack written by James Newton Howard. (The same composer who wrote the music for Sixth Sense) The acting performances are good although I would have to say that Samuel L. Jackson doues provide the most captivating performance of all. Bruce Willis plays the role of David Dunn a little too reservedly, and where it worked superbly in The Sixth Sense it is not quite as effective here. Good suporting performances from Robin Wright Penn as Dunn's wife Audrey and from Spencer Treat Clark (He is the kid that played Lucius in Gladiator) as Dunn's son Joseph.

Some good use of audio effects coupled with some fine direction of photography. The film is an interesting attempt by M. Night Shyamalan to literally take a comic book and transfer it to film. The photography is directed and edited in such a way that this does works quite well but the story is unlike your usual comic book. I think that the main stumbling block really is the fact that what you have is a superhero story which is supposed to be realistic. No imaginary cities or over the top super powers but just a middle aged guy with a family who doesn't know that he is different until this accident. What would anyone in that position do? Exactly this film may well be predominantly a superhero flick but M. Night Shyamalan has once again created a psychological thriller to capture an audience in an endeavour to make you think.

The story itself does go into a lot of depth and spends a lot of time establishing characters which explains the generally slow pace of the film as it builds a unique atmosphere for the audience. As with The Sixth Sense the director makes good use of colour, and in this film variant colour changes reflect the mood and/or emotion of certain characters.

Perhaps this film could be construed as an indication of M. Night Shyamalan's naivety or bravery. For him in the predominant trend of big action blockbusters and short audience attention spans to write, direct and produce a film which is essentially a sophisticated and quite intelligent rendering of a graphic novel is very bold. If you are going to watch this film then you should do so objectively and with an open mind. Although to the more mainstream movie audience this film isn't as good as The Sixth Sense there is nothing particuarly bad about it either and it could prove to be an enjoyable film. This is a definate you either like it or you don't type of film but you should not let The Sixth Sense overshadow an almost as equally impressive piece of work.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Picture 2.35:1 Good quality picture
Audio 5.1 Dolby Digital Sounds Excellent - Lots of Bass
Features The Main Feature
Animated menus and Scene Selection
Features Good feature documentary featuring Samuel L. Jackson entitled "Comic Books & Superheroes"
An interesting Multi Angle perspective of the Train Station Sequence
Deleted and Additional scenes from the movie in a small feature introduced by M. Night Shyamalan
A good "Behind the Scenes" documentary featuring the cast - lots of Bruce Willis
An informative collectors booklet.
Animated menus
Verdict Inside the gatefold case is included two exclusive Alex Ross illustrations of the films two main characters which are superb and well worth framing. A stylish and well presented two disc set which is quite impressive but NO directors commentary.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Reviewed by Logan Back Top Home