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Monday, May 6, 2019

FILM REVIEW OF "DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE" (2019)


Most of us watch movies to escape the drudgery of our everyday lives.  We want our heroes to vanquish the villains and reap the rewards of their valor.  Hollywood often provides the dessert of a happy ending.  If it makes us feel sufficiently good, perhaps we’ll watch it again.  Depending on our maturity, we don’t want to experience too much reality.  Teenagers crave mindless horror movies because death poses little threat to them than it does to grown-ups. Nobody wants to see their heroes die tragically, despite the suspense that makes us sweat out the ending.  If you prefer films with sugarcoated endings rather than a meandering melodrama where anything appears possible, you should probably shun the Mel Gibson & Vince Vaughn crime thriller “Dragged Across Concrete” (**** OUT OF ****), a gritty saga about two cops who have crossed the line one time too many.  Writer & director S. Craig Zahler maintains the reputation he has forged for himself in his last two movies: “Bone Tomahawk” (2015) and “Brawl in Cell Block 99” (2017), relentlessly brutal outings where the heroes face odds hopelessly stacked against them.  Watching “Dragged Across Concrete” for Mel Gibson fans won’t remind them of the shenanigans of the “Lethal Weapon” franchise.  Suspenseful, lingering, but heavyweight in every aspect from fade-in to fade out, this austere R-rated crime yarn is neither as pitiless as “Bone Tomahawk” nor as pugnacious as “Brawl in Cell Block 99.” If you relish movies where the protagonists improvise against the unexpected to dispatch their adversaries, you might enjoy it more than the snowflakes who will be alienated by its nihilism.  Thirty years ago when the stars were younger and life offered the prospect of greater optimism, movies like “Dragged Across Concrete” could never have been financed.  Clocking in at an intractable 158-minutes, this elaborate heist caper boasts memorable characters, top-notch casting, but its soap bubble of optimism bursts before more than a quarter of an hour elapses.

“Dragged Across Concrete” opens with two seasoned plainclothes detectives on a stakeout.  Brett Ridgeman (Mel Gibson of “Braveheart”) and Anthony Lurasetti (Vince Vaughn of “Clay Pigeons”) flush an African-American drug dealer out of a high-rise apartment complex after another cop impersonates a plumber to complain about a water leak.  The drug dealer flees via the fire escape, and Ridgeman and Lurasetti collar him.  Ridgeman questions him about the whereabouts of a duffel bag of heroin.  As he grinds his shoe into the nape of the dastard’s neck, Ridgeman learns about a partially deaf Latino woman shacked up in the apartment with the drug dealer.  Unbeknownst to the detectives, an apartment dweller some floors up has made a video of their excessive force.  Although the two cops have made a major bust, everything they’ve done comes back to haunt them.  Ridgeman’s former partner, Detective Lieutenant Calvert (Don Johnson of “Miami Vice”), suspends them without pay.  The two aren’t happy with the consequences.  Bridgeman’s better days have passed, and Lurasetti is accustomed to having the finer things.  Unlike Lieutenant Calvert, Ridgeman has failed to change with the times.  He does good, solid, police work, but displays little compassion.  His wife, a former cop, Melanie (Laurie Holden of “The Mist”) quit the force because of multiple sclerosis.  Moreover, the Ridgemans live in a low-life neighborhood, and their teenage daughter, Sara (Jordyn Ashley Olson of “The Shack”), endures bullies every time she comes home from school.  Ridgeman wants to move his family to a better side of town. Ridgeman’s younger partner Lurasetti plans to propose to his beautiful fiancée, Denise (Tattiawna Jones of “Tully”), but the departmental suspension threatens to cramp his style. 


Ridgeman learns from a criminal informant, Friedrich (Udo Kier of “Blade”), about a felon in town who has been planning a big crime.  Initially reluctant to cross the line without his badge, Lurasetti goes along with Ridgeman, and they stake out this suspicious crook, Lorentz Vogelmann (Thomas Kretschmann of “Resident Evil: Apocalypse”), who plans to orchestrate a once-in-a-lifetime haul that will set him up for life.  Part of his plan requires the help of two trigger-happy accomplices.  Furthermore, Vogelmann hires two African-Americans as drivers, Biscuit (Michael Jai White of “Black Dynamite”) and his childhood chum, Henry Johns (Tory Kittles of “Get Rich or Die Tryin'”), who has just gotten out of  prison.  Johns discovers that not only has his mother lost her job, but she has also resorted to prostitution to pay her bills.  Unfortunately, she and his crippled brother are so deep in debt they face eviction.  Reluctantly, Johns joins Biscuit as a back-up driver for Vogelmann to help them out. 


Patience is required to appreciate “Dragged Across Concrete.”  This heist film unfolds methodically, and we are as baffled as these two cops about Vogelmann’s designs. Characterization is really sturdy here.  Ridgeman calculates everything in percentages.  Can they thwart Vogelmann and survive?  Gibson looks terrific with his silver hair and thick mustache.  Life hasn’t treated Ridgeman well, but he has himself to blame, too.  Despite the disparity in their ages, the two stars radiate chemistry.  You can believe they’re partners because they know each other with a familiarity that has bred mutual respect. The villains are hopelessly homicidal.  Garbed from head to toe in impersonal black outfits, they wear goggles and wield magazine-fed, submachine guns equipped with silencers.  They issue lethal threats, and they show no mercy.  Vogelmann has planned his heist painstakingly, and Biscuit and Johns realize that they may be expendable.  Shrewdly, they stash cellophane-wrapped, automatic pistols out of sight in case they suspect Vogelmann of treachery.  Writer & director S. Craig Zahler isn’t cut from the same cloth as cult director Quentin Tarantino.  Zahler refuses to impress us with clever references to influential crime films, and his dialogue is straightforward like the realistic dialogue in Jack Webb’s vintage “Dragnet” television series.  Zahler’s characters are philosophical, but they are neither pretentious nor loquacious. Basically, “Dragged Across Concrete” qualifies as a hard-boiled melodrama that offers no easy way out for anybody. 


Monday, April 22, 2019

A FILM REVIEW OF ''THE HIGHWAYMEN" (2019)

"Blind Side" director John Lee Hancock's authentic, Depression Era, road-trip, manhunt thriller "The Highwaymen," (*** OUT OF ****) co-starring Oscar-winning actor Kevin Costner and Oscar-nominated Woody Harrelson, serves as the flip side of the classic Warner Brothers' gangster epic "Bonnie & Clyde" (1967), with Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty. Told from the perspective of the two seasoned manhunters who tracked down the bloodthirsty young Texas couple, "The Highwaymen" confines their quarry Bonnie & Clyde to the periphery of the mayhem, out-of-the-limelight, depicting them in either far-off shots or close-ups, so audiences cannot sympathize with these trigger-happy desperados who had gunned down policemen without a qualm. "Young Guns" scenarist John Fusco has provided far more history about this pugnacious pair in this Netflix movie than its celebrated theatrical predecessor. Often, when we see Bonnie, we are given only glimpses of her feet encased in ruby red shoes. She walks with a limp that she acquired after Clyde drove off a bridge under construction when he missed a detour. This mishap injured Bonnie so severely that she resorted to laudanum, a concoction of opium and alcohol, to relieve the agony until she died in May 1934 in a hail of gunfire from two former Texas Rangers--Frank Hamer and Manny Gault--along with a posse in Bienville Parish, Louisiana. Throughout this chronicle of their pursuit, Hamer and Gault were amazed by the relative lack of height of the two criminals in comparison to the media attention that transformed them into titanic celebrities during what was termed 'the Public Enemy era' between 1931 and 1934. In the final scene, Hancock gives us a lingering glance of the two felons, looking like two clean-scrubbed, fashionably attired cherubs, with an arsenal of firearms at their fingertips.

As depicted in "The Highwaymen," the beginning of the end for the notorious duo started with a prison breakout that Bonnie & Clyde orchestrated to free accomplices from the Texas-based Eastham Prison Farm in 1934. Warden Lee Simmons (John Carroll Lynch of "Shutter Island") of the Texas Department of Corrections got the green light from Governor Miriam "Ma" Ferguson (Kathy Bates of "Primary Colors") to hire Hamer to stop the crime spree of these two twentysomething renegades. Privately, Ferguson had nothing but contempt for the Texas Rangers, recently disbanded under a cloud of corruption, and warned her own duly appointed constabulary that they would face repercussions if the two former Rangers nabbed Bonnie & Clyde. Frank Hamer (Kevin Costner of "Dances with Wolves") comes out of retirement and accepts Simmons' offer despite the misgivings of his socialite wife. Hamer chooses an old friend and former Texas Ranger Benjamin Maney Gault (Woody Harrelson of "Natural Born Killers") to accompany him. Neither Hamer nor Gault is in good enough shape to chase a teenager around the block near Bonnie's mother's house. Hamer hasn't fired his revolver in such a long time that he cannot obliterate bottles with bullets. While immaculately dressed officers of the state of Texas as well as the FBI rely on the latest modern crime-fighting technology to pursue the elusive Bonnie & Clyde, Hamer counts on his frontier savvy about human nature and maps charting the couple's whereabouts to ferret them out. Comparatively, this evokes memories of the turn-of-the-century John Wayne western "Big Jake" (1971) where Wayne tracked down the dastards who kidnapped his grandson, while law enforcement handicapped by modern technology could do little despite their apparent advantages over him. Ultimately, Hamer and Gault put everybody, including FBI with their aerial searches, to shame. Essentially, our heroes qualify as underdogs who manage to triumph despite incredible odds to stop the Barrow gang.

Mind you, "The Highwaymen" certainly isn't the most exciting manhunt melodrama. At times, the going is mighty slow because Hamer and Gault painstakingly gather clues and develop leads based on their bloodhound instincts. Although most of the action involves Hamer and Gault, they have few encounters with Bonnie & Clyde until the finale. The scene that highlights best what our heroes must contend with occurs when they tail Bonnie & Clyde out of a town and then lose them in the middle of nowhere. Clyde careens off the highway into a barren field and swerves in circles around Hamer and Gault. Clyde churns up a blinding dust storm and loses the two Texas Rangers. Eventually, after he learns that the felons are cruising off for 'greener pastures,' Hamer decides to pursue them into Louisiana where the authorities have issued no warrants for their arrest. During the manhunt, Gault agonizes about his ability to shoot a woman. Later, they learn Bonnie Parker has been as just as cold-blooded and homicidal as Clyde. This is a far cry from the vintage Warner Brothers movie. Hamer follows a lead involving one of Clyde's accomplices in Louisiana. He cuts a deal with the father of one of Clyde's cronies that culminates in the inevitable ambush of the twosome. The posse catch Bonnie & Clyde as they approach their accomplice's father who is seeking roadside assistance. Reportedly, in real life, the posse poured so many volleys of gunfire into the couple that the barrage deafened them.

Clocking in at two hours and twelve minutes, "The Highwaymen" aims for the older demographic that loved "Unforgiven." Nevertheless, it ranks far above anything that Costner has made in many moons. Costner and Harrelson lend their considerable gravitas to Hancock's authentic looking film. The $49-million production does a commendable job of recreating the utter despair and destitution suffered by too many people during the Great Depression. Some critics and historians have accused Hamer of overstepping his authority after he shadowed Bonnie & Clyde into Louisiana, and he could have taken them alive. Hancock and Fusco show that Hamer was prepared to do whatever was necessary to kill the couple. Despite its impressive adherence to history, "The Highwaymen" will always lay in the shadow of the Oscar-winning Warner Brothers' classic, but it does provide greater insight into Bonnie & Clyde.

FILM REVIEW OF ''TRIPLE FRONTIER" (2019)

The premise of "Triple Frontier," (** OUT OF ****) Netflix's limited theatrical release about retired special-ops who rob a South American drug trafficker, sounded promising. "All is Lost" director J.C. Chandor and Oscar-winning "Hurt Locker" scenarist Mark Boal focus on a team of sympathetic, hard-luck, military types who should appeal to any red-blooded connoisseur of American action cinema. Furthermore, these heroes see this mission as their chance to start over. Despite their faithful military service to Uncle Sam, they received neither proper recognition nor sufficient compensation. Now, they embark on a campaign to plunder millions in blood money from a notorious narcotics honcho. Everything boils down to black and white simplicity. Our heroes are cut from the same clichés as Sylvester Stallone's far more seasoned cronies in the "The Expendables" trilogy, and they do come loaded for bear. Nevertheless, these guys behave like amateurs, compounding one mistake after another, and undermining their own best efforts. Since the good guys must be sympathetic, the villains must be repugnant. Cartel drug traffickers qualify as ideal heavies. Reviled in real life as much as on the screen, they kill without a qualm and hold nothing sacred. They deserve to die a thousand times. Our heroes should be virtuously white, while the villains should be shady as sin. Comparably, James Brolin led a group of amateurs on a similar mission in "High Risk" (1981), but everybody survived with their loot intact for a triumphant finale. "Triple Frontier" had potential, but it wastes its powerhouse cast (Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund, and Pedro Pascal) in a hackneyed hokum about the malevolence of greed. Like we don't know the corrosive nature of greed. Presumably, Chandor and Boal must have cut their teeth on the Humphrey Bogart classic "Treasure of the Sierra Madre" (1948) because "Triple Frontier" contains a similar storyline. Unfortunately, this escapist oriented, testosterone-laden tale turns sour in Chandor and Boal's hands. Imagine what "The Expendables" might have been if they lost, and you may pass up watching "Triple Frontier."

Technically, "Triple Frontier" is a crime movie instead of an adventure epic. Our heroes initiate a home invasion and loot a wealthy cartel mobster's premises. Initially, they search without success for his safe, until it dawns on them the house is the safe! Meantime, since the villain lives beyond the law, he cannot blow the whistle on them without running the risk of the authorities intervening. Greed enters the picture, and our heroes take too many duffels of loot. Until the 1970s, Hollywood maintained a strict censorship policy that crooks never delight in their ill-gotten gains. This policy was part of a larger rule Hollywood struggled to enforce: Crime must not pay! When the Clint Eastwood & Jeff Bridges heist caper "Thunderbolt & Lightfoot" (1974) came out, the studios gave these criminals greater flexibility, but not without the usual life and death consequences. In "Triple Frontier," we are rooting for our heroes to haul off millions when we realize they've completely lost their minds. Poor planning sabotages their heist. Indeed, they pull off the robbery, but pulling off the getaway is something else. Stallone and his "Expendables" cohorts would have gotten clean away, but these loose cannons must pay the piper. "Triple Frontier" takes a tragic turn around its 90-minute mark, and you have to ponder whether you want to shed a tear for this band of clowns-in-camouflage. Naturally, The character with the greatest amount to lose inevitably gets it. This kind of old-fashioned morality takes the joy out of what could have been an audacious adventure epic. During the getaway section, our heroes behave like trigger-happy amateurs. They find themselves against odds even more incredible than those of the cartel. Primarily, they find themselves at the mercy of the local population. The getaway occurs in sprawling, spectacular, mountainous scenery, with Hawaii standing in splendidly for Brazil. Our heroes exfiltrate in a wobbly helicopter with their ill-gotten gains dangling beneath it in a cargo net. Foolishly, they have loaded more than the chopper can accommodate and fly over the Andes Mountains. They disintegrate into their own worst enemy.

"Triple Frontier" gets off to a promising start as Chandor and Boal introduce the heroes and their particular predicament that has prompted them to commit a crime. The chief protagonist is Santiago 'Pope' Garcia (Oscar Isaac of "A Most Violent Year"), and he is a private military contractor who coordinates drug busts with the local authorities. Pope has a confidential informant, Yovanna (Adria Arjona of "Pacific Rim: Uprising"), and she knows the whereabouts of the local drug trafficker. She also knows that he has concealed millions in his walls. She provides Pope with everything he needs to know about this despicably murderous narco. Pope enlists four of his old service buddies and outlines a scenario that each of them could tote off duffels stuffed with multi-millions in cash. Eventually, Pope consults Tom 'Redfly' Davis (Ben Affleck of "The Town") and asks him to draft a combat plan. Reluctantly, Davis designs a scheme with a timetable. Pope persuades a pilot, Francisco 'Catfish' Morales (Pedro Pascal of "The Equalizer 2"), to fly them across the Andes to a ship on the coast. After Davis agrees to accompany them, William 'Ironhead' Miller (Charlie Hunnam of "King Arthur") signs on, and his little brother, MMA fighter Ben Miller (Garrett Hedlund of "TRON: Legacy"), joins them. Afterward, everything goes sideways. Greed overrides good sense, and one of the five takes a fatal bullet in the head. "Triple Frontier" never recovers from the tragic death of this character. In part, he brought it on himself. At this point, our heroes whine like knuckle-heads who bit off more than they could chew and are choking on their own greed. The performances are uniformly robust, but the filmmakers have given each actor little to work with to make their respective characters memorable, for example, like "The Magnificent Seven." If you're hoping for thrills and chills, "Triple Frontier" provides few.

FILM REVIEW OF ''THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT" (2018)

The title of a movie may sometimes reveal more about its plot than you need to know.  Freshman writer & director Robert D. Krzykowski's atmospheric, historical epic "The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot" (*** OUT OF ****), starring Sam Elliot as the titular protagonist, doesn't tell everything.  As the legendary huntsman Calvin Barr, Elliot plays the individual who infiltrated the ranks of the Third Reich and put lead through Hitler's head. "Poldark" star Aidan Turner credibly portrays the protagonist as a younger man in the World War II scenes. Happily, Turner bears a reasonable resemblance to what Sam Elliot might have looked like 50 years ago.  After all, Sam is pushing 75.  After the Hitler shooting, Elliot takes over from Turner as the older Barr for the 1980s.  Meantime, Krzykowski cuts back and forth between past and present storylines, and he displays nimble flair.  Everything considered, though he appears in perhaps half of the movie, Elliot's sturdy presence turns "The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot" into an intriguing, occasionally exciting, meditation on loneliness and heroism.  The scene where Barr penetrates Hitler's security and confronts the Führer is suspenseful. Even better is the unusual weapon our hero assembles from various inconspicuous personal items to shoot him.  The gun is reminiscent of the weapon wielded by Francisco Scaramanga in the James Bond extravaganza "The Man with the Golden Gun" (1974). Despite all his medals and bravery, our hero doesn't live in the lap of luxury.  Of course, nobody knows he killed Hitler.  The U.S. government covered up his audacious deed when the Third Reich replaced the Führer with an imposter!  Moreover, as each imposter perished, Barr explained the Nazis lined-up another to maintain the masquerade.  This kind of inventive plotting distinguishes this artsy, little, independently produced film.  The palatable authenticity that permeates "The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot" is contrary to most current films.  Fate constitutes a fickle thing for Calvin Barr as well as for the audience, but the movie never degenerates into a maudlin melodrama.

Good fortune has not favored Calvin Barr in his personal ambitions.  He bides his time contemplating the past. Barr keeps to himself unless he ventures out to his younger brother's barbershop for a trim.  Barr's congenial brother Ed (comedian Larry Miller of "Undercover Blues") is only too happy to give Calvin a haircut.  Sometimes, they go fishing and drift idly around in a boat on a serene lake, but never utter a word.  Calvin experiences flashbacks from the Hitler assassination throughout, reliving those white-knuckled moments.  Meantime, he eats breakfast with Ralphie, his pet Labrador Retriever, slipping him a fragment of link sausage under the table.  Calvin lives alone, and Krzykowski often shows him pondering a small wooden box.  Neither the significance nor the contents of the box is divulged, but it is enough for us to know that it contains something valuable to him.  Calvin's mysterious box is comparable to the enigmatic attaché case in "Pulp Fiction."  You can guess all you want, but Krzykowski neither affirms nor denies what lies within it.  When he least expects visitors, Calvin finds himself chatting with an FBI agent nicknamed Flag Pin (Ron Livingston of "Office Space") and a Canadian government official Maple Leaf (Rizwan Manji of "Charlie Wilson's War") who pitch him a preposterous proposition straight-out-of-a-science fiction saga. 

In Canada, health experts have learned the fabled creature Bigfoot is carrying a deadly plague which could wipe out mankind.  Every animal that Bigfoot has come into contact with has died an ugly death.  Miraculously, Calvin is immune to the creature's virus, so he enjoys a modicum of protection.  Flag Pin and Maple Leaf want him to enter a fiery arena about 50-miles in diameter in the Canadian wilderness and shoot the Bigfoot to death.  Initially reluctant to undertake such an outlandish mission, Calvin changes his mind at the last moment.  The creature Bigfoot is reminiscent of the apes at the dawn of time in Stanley Kubrick's original "2001: A Space Odyssey," but it isn't a schlocky B-movie monster.  Calvin reports back that the creature doesn't have big feet.  Nevertheless, this creature is clever, and it almost leads Calvin off the edge of a cliff.    Earlier, Calvin's encounter with thieves outside the bar in his home town turns ugly and violent.  These three dastards brandish knives and pistols and demand his keys and his wallet. The methodical way Calvin disarms them and leaves them sprawled senseless on the asphalt would prompt the heroes of "The Expendables" film franchise to high-five him with admiration.

Sam Elliot's performance is laden with dramatic gravitas.  Not every actor can play a seasoned killer who convinces us that he is not only lethal but also remorseful.  Elliot doesn't shrink from performing his own stunts, and the filmmakers thrust him into situations that few 75-year old men should experience.  One stunning long shot of Elliot scaling a mountain with his bare hands with his rifle strapped to his back reminds us that the journey of the hero is fraught with constant peril.  Krzykowski keeps the actor on his toes. Mind you, everything Krzykowski does here as a filmmaker clashes with the common wisdom of theatrical tentpole releases.  Krzykowski's film suffers somewhat from the pervasive sense of melancholy our stalwart, tight-lipped hero experiences.  Bridging the 1940s with the 1980s, Zach Passero's polished editing makes these drastically different scenes appear integrated.  As Calvin's younger version, Aiden Turner has a brief, bittersweet romance with the heroine Caitlin FitzGerald.  However, they are never shown sleeping together. Seriously efficient at his tracking and killing, Calvin Barr lacks the control over his personal life that he has attained over his prey in his professional life.  The actor cast as Hitler-- Joe Lucas--is a dead ringer for Herr Schicklgruber!  Altogether, "The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot" qualifies as a derivative, but above-average, character study with nuance about an individual who without question made sacrifices to serve his country. 

Friday, January 25, 2019

FILM REVIEW OF "UNBREAKABLE" (2000)


Writer & director M. Night Shyamalan's fourth film "Unbreakable" refers to its protagonist, football stadium security guard David Dunn (Bruce Willis) who has been born with an almost perfect body because his bones cannot be broken. Far less introspective and surprising than the enigmatic "Sixth Sense," this atmospheric melodrama depicts the friendship between Dunn and an African-American, Elijah Price, nicknamed Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson), who suffers from an unusual bone disease designated 'Osteogenesis Imperfecta.' Basically, 'Osteogenesis Imperfecta' is a genetic disorder where bones break easily. In other words, Glass' surname reflects the extremely fragile nature of his body. The first scene in "Unbreakable" details the birth of Mr. Glass in a department store apparel fitting room.  One of the men who takes charge of the infant discovers to his horror that the little boy's arms and legs are misshapen from where he fought to get out of his mother's womb. Later, we learn that Mr. Glass has become obsessed with comic book superheroes.  Shrewdly, his mother (Charlayne Woodard of “The Crucible”) used comics to coax her son out of the seclusion of their apartment. Glass becomes a leading authority on comic books as well as the characteristics of super heroes and super villains. He represents a strong villain because he reckons if he occupies one end of the spectrum then an 'unbreakable' hero occupies the other end. In his fiendish efforts to find the other end of the spectrum, Mr. Glass commits incorrigible crimes which eventually land him in a mental asylum. For example, he engineers a train wreck where everybody on board dies, except for our protagonist David Dunn. 

Eventually, Mr. Glass catches up with David after his miraculous survival without a broken bone makes news’ headlines as the sole survivor of the deadly train wreck.  Moreover, he takes a bizarre interest in him that Dunn doesn't reciprocate.  Nevertheless, David’s curiosity prompts him to search for information about his health that he has taken for granted.  For example, he has never missed a day at work owing to illness.  Later, he realizes that he was never injured in an accident that broke his future wife’s leg.  After the wreck, David cites an injury that convinced him from pursuing a promising career in college football.  His wife, Audrey Dunn (Robin Wright of "Forrest Gump"), is relieved to learn David has decided to hang up his cleats.  Glass' inquiries arouses the curiosity of David's son Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark of "Gladiator") who loads up more free weights than David thinks possible to press and winds up impressing both of them.  David pushes 350 pounds!  Later, when Joseph is convinced that his father cannot be hurt by flying lead, a standoff occurs in the kitchen with Joseph threatening his dad with a revolver at point blank range. Of course, neither David nor his terrified wife Audrey believe that he is invincible where bullets are concerned, and they manage to persuade Joseph to put the pistol down.  Reportedly, when George Reeves portrayed the Man of Steel on the television program “Superman,” a child approached him with a gun during a public appearance and tried to shoot him, but Reeves talked him out of it.  He warned him that the bullet might ricochet off him and wound somebody else.

The $75-million "Unbreakable" boils down to your basic clash of the titans. Mr. Glass has spent his entire life searching for David. Initially, David refuses to believe anything about him made him special.  After the tragic train accident, David has second thoughts.  One scene demonstrates both of David's two usual capabilities. A maniac forces his way into a residential home, kills the husband, ties up the two children, assaults the wife, and leaves her tied up with bleeding wrists. Meantime, David has the power of insight that enables him to tell who constitutes a threat to the public. Glass is on hand at the football stadium when David displays this power.  Scrutinizing the spectators filing into the stadium, David points out a suspicious character wearing a cameo shirt.  Our protagonist suspects this fellow may be packing a pistol out-of-sight under his shirt. At the last minute, the suspicious fellow steps out of line.  Desperately Mr. Glass pursues him and falls down a stairway in his efforts to learn if he was toting a firearm which matched David's description. Indeed, this suspicious guy was carrying a concealed weapon!  Later, David spots a maintenance man.  They brush past each other, and David follows him to the house where the husband lies dead and the children are tied up.  David attacks the maintenance man and gets his arms around his neck.  The maniac slams David repeatedly against walls, smashing up those walls, but he cannot dislodge David who keeps him in a choke hold until the brute loses consciousness.  At first, David and his family didn’t trust Elijah, and they classified him as a nuisance. Their attitude changes, and the two become friends, until the final quarter of the action, when Elijah reveals his true colors, and David realizes that Elijah poses a threat.  He orchestrated three terrorist attacks in an effort to find the man at the other in of the spectrum.  Once, David recognizes Glass as a threat, he alerts the authorities. 

Clocking in at 106 minutes, “Unbreakable” seems to take forever to unfold.  The ending is a let-down because Glass and David never tangle, but the character-driven action is momentarily engrossing until it concludes with an anti-climactic situation. Bruce Willis delivers a beautifully restrained performance, and he behaves just as we suspect a normal person would.  The scene on the train before the accident is liable to draw the wrath of married women.  David removes his wedding ring and makes a play for a female passenger who sits beside him.  Samuel L. Jackson is just as good as Elijah but never really seems menacing enough.  Despite the strong character study of two rivals, “Unbreakable” is by its dreary pace and its anti-climactic ending.