20 February 2002 | bob the moo
Slow, thoughtful and clever -but the lack of traditional action or thrills may frustrate some
A massive train crash outside Philadelphia kills 132 passengers and leaves only one survivor. The survivor, security guard David Dunn walks away completely unhurt from the accident. Some time later he is contacted by comic book collector Elijah Price who believes that comic books are merely exaggerated versions of truth and that some people are created weak like him while some are created strong in order to protect the weak. David develops his talents with the support of Price and his son Joseph and, despite his cynicism, starts to try to use his powers to help people on need.
The 6th sense was always going to be a hard show to follow up but Shyamalan has managed to make a film that is almost as clever, emotive, thoughtful and slow. It even manages to end with a twist that is almost as good as sixth sense's was. The story moves quite slowly, almost painfully at times, however I found this succeeded in making the film feel more thoughtful and less glamorous. The director even shots the train crash in a very low key manner, as if to make the point that the film isn't about cheap spectacle or visual thrills. Instead we follow David as he finds his abilities and gradually accepts them, all this side is fascinating although some of the side stories are a little dragged out. The twist is only the icing on the cake and if you're into the characters the way I was then it is really impacting. One bit of advice - don't think about it or try to work it out. Thinking about the twist will stop you enjoying the main story and will spoil the film for yourself.
Willis is excellent - he doesn't set the world on fire, but he does a very low-key performance as a common man confronted with so much potential responsibility. He doesn't ham it up but you know that there's things going on inside his head that reflect on his face. Jackson is also really good - he maybe plays it a little too weird and should have been a bit more of a geek rather than an uptight art dealer sort. Willis and Jackson should keep making films together from now on, cause even there worst collaboration so far has still been good - Pulp Fiction, Unbreakable, Die Hard With a Vengeance - it seems to be a winning partnership (Loaded Weapon 1 doesn't count as Willis is only in it for 5 seconds!). A surprise addition to the cast is Eamonn Walker as Dr Mathison, it's a small role but he is a fine actor and deserves to be seen in big films (check him out in HBO's Oz for a real show of his abilities).
Overall it's very slow and may frustrate some people, but if you got the 6th sense then you'll probably get this. The story is moving and thoughtful and the final scene is merely the icing on a very fine cake.