Viewed – 04 May 2016 Blu-ray
I’m on a bit of a M Night Shyamalan binge of late and so we come to his acclaimed thriller blending comic book myths with mystery. Starring Bruce Willis as the soul survivor of a train crash who comes under the watchful eye of comic book aficionado Samuel L Jackson who believes Willis may have super powers. This one’s a strange beast and has a pretty weird vibe through out, with performances not unlike a David Lynch film. Everyone here apart from the principle leads talks to each other like they are under some hypnotic spell or in a dream.
Slow burning and certainly intriguing, with some imaginative camera work … yet this was more ‘er…what is going on?’ than ‘ooh…what’s going to happen?’, and what seems like a low budget lets this down when actually getting to see said train crash would have given this viewer something to latch on to. One scene especially felt off, with Willis’ son pointing a gun at his father in the belief he’s indestructible; it’s both over-acted and comes out of nowhere and makes the kid look a complete nutter. Add to this sleepy support from Robin Wright as Willis’ estranged wife and it’s left up to Jackson’s complex ‘Mister Glass’ to save the day. Here at least Jackson makes for a foreboding and fascinating presence with a tragic back-story, but comes off as a bit of a wack-job from the off with a series of crazy theories. Willis does manage to carry the film well and is emotional and for the most part convincing, but at times goes along with things a bit too easily.
M Night Shyamalan’s movie can’t escape the shadow of The Sixth Sense with a similar but less understandable weird atmosphere, and a twist towards the end that whilst a shock, also comes off as ‘why?’. With a bit more ambition this could have been a real gem as the idea has plenty of potential but fails to make the most of it, concluding with a solid final act that’s all too little too late.
The Blu-ray suffers from some smudgy black levels and a loss of detail to distant shots. Close up detail fairs better however and the blue-tinged colour palette still looks very effective. James Newton Howard’s eerie score is brought to life in Dolby Digital 5.1 as well as uncompressed PCM 5.1 and dialogue is sharp and there’s decent ambient effects to the soundtrack, if a little subdued. Extras however make up for any shortcomings on the movie with two in-depth docs ‘behind the scenes’ and ‘comic books and superheroes’ as well as some shorter featurettes and a gimmicky multi-angle section. Again, like Sixth Sense no commentary from Shyamalan which would have been welcome. Overall, not a bad all-round package for a fun if rather overrated experience.
(the movie) 3 /5
(the Blu-ray) 3 /5
Liked it more than you but i’m going on my first showing when it came out. Interesting to hear your take as ever.