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Face-Off: The Sixth Sense vs. Unbreakable

05.30.2013by: Paul Huffman
For last weeks Face-Off, we anticipated the release of Fast & Furious 6 with a match up between two of the characters Vin Diesel is famous for in Riddick and Dominic Toretto. Short story short, you peeps and I love Riddick. I expected to be a shut out quite honestly, but Toretto had his supporters here and there. This made me happy, as I have enjoyed Dominic Toretto well enough.

For this week, to gear up for the release of After Earth, we'll be visiting some early M. Night Shyamalan greatness in a match between The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable. With these two films M Night became a man to watch out for. Sixth Sense is still a favorite for many today in terms of thrillers that floored our asses, and to this day me and many others still love the prospect of a sequel to Unbreakable. Over the years M Nights stock has fallen considerably as many are of the opinion the quality of his films aren't what was promised to us with these first two films, an opinion I can't exactly disagree with. But for a while, M Night's brand of filmmaking was one of the best things around and these two films paved that road. Let's dissect.
Performances
Obviously of note in the Sixth Sense is Haley Joel Osment's turn as the tormented young boy that sees dead people that don't know they are dead. That boy showed some serious chops, and it's a shame that for the most part he didn't really take off after Sixth Sense. Bruce Willis gave a performance I wasn't used to seeing and I dug it...so somber, not a sign of cracking wise that he was famous for. The unsung hero of this film to me though is Toni Collette, she gave such a desperate performance and her last scene in the film had be crying like a sh*thead toddler with a skinned knee.
Bruce Willis went even further with this film in portraying something that couldn't be further from the actor he's been most of his career. But that performance definitely fit the character being brought to life, going into the film seems like the dude was so damn unhappy with life I'd be acting depressed as all hell too. Samuel L. Jackson rocked it in this film, almost to the point that I would rather have seen the film completely from Jackson's character's point of view. He was the more compelling guy to watch this time around.
Tone
Sixth Sense set up a mood in the films opening few minutes that didn't let up for the rest of the film, M Night really pulled off the suspense beautifully in the Sixth Sense. In terms of the films visuals, in contrast to the dry tone of Unbreakable, Sixth Sense had colors that were more vibrant...even to the point of M Night consciously using several colors as ways to drop hints as to where certain plot points were going. There are still those subtle moments, where the musical score kicks in just the right way, that still creep the f*ck out of me. Great atmosphere for a thriller/horror.
One word can describe the look and feel of Unbreakable, and that word is bleak. Dry (yet effective) performances, dry colors...where Sixth Sense had some life and some passion into how it looked, the most vibrant color featured in the film is Sam Jackson's wardrobe. Loved that purple get up. This lack of life wasn't exactly detrimental to the film, as it fit with the mindset of every single character of the film...there was no color to the life of David Dunn and his family, they were in a dark place and the tone of the film made us feel that too.
Soundtrack
I briefly mentioned how effective James Newton Howard was in setting a terrifying tone for the moments of horror in the Sixth Sense. Today, I have grown tired of the use of the musical score to try to force a reaction out of the audience, it's become quite cliche. But damn, there was something about how Howard did it in Sixth Sense that just made it work. In the films closing minutes, Howard didn't let us down when it came to the emotional impact as well, you had to feel for Willis' character as he was coming to his realization. It is possible to go overboard with the score for moments like this, to where it almost becomes a parody of itself. Howard handled everything in this film beautifully.
The soundtrack to Unbreakable is actually one of my favorite aspects of the film, I have the suite on my I Pod as a matter of fact. Two moments stick out in mind when it comes to the score in Unbreakable. One being the scene with David in the train station scoping out the public with his new found "power." My second favorite cue we heard twice in the film when David embraced his heroic destiny in the abducted families home, the same cue is heard again at the end of the film and that's where it packed its emotional punch for me. I felt anger and pity for Sam Jackson's character in that moment and it's the score that stuck with me for a while after I saw the film. Howard nailed it with this film.
Twist Ending
The twist ending has been the M.O for pretty much the entirety of M. Night's career, and this first one worked. It's hard to say if I would have been as floored with the ending being the audience member that I am today, I would have watched for the signs had the film hit the scene today. Alas, when this film came out I kicked myself in the ass for not seeing the twist of the man that didn't know he was dead. Dug the flashbacks to the hints I should have picked up on, bottom line I loved that I was a young naive viewer so that I could get the full effect the ending was trying to convey.
Unbreakable had that twist ending that packed a great emotional punch and was surprising enough because at the time I expected something to happen, but didn't know exactly what to expect. It kills me to say, but from a holy sh*t I didn't see that coming standpoint the ending of Unbreakable didn't have the same effect as that of the Sixth Sense. The viewers knew the comic book undertones and figured something like this had to give. Also, I guess some points have to be taken away for adding the element of what happened to Elijah with viewers thinking it would have had a bigger gut punch without it. I would have to agree.
The Sixth Sense
So there you have it folks, I was toying with the idea of making this match a tie to leave the verdict to you lot as this was one of the most difficult Face-Off's for me to judge. I love me some Unbreakable, but as I was thinking about it Sixth Sense has more replay value for me to admire the performances of Haley Joel and Toni Collette. Even Bruce Willis had more life to his role in Sixth Sense. But that's not to say Unbreakable does not deserve the win, couldn't be further from the truth. With that, time for you to strike back.

If you have an idea that you'd like to see in a future FACE OFF column, feel free to shoot an email to me at paulhuffman@joblo.com with your ideas and some ideas for the critique to base your ideas off. Thank you and in the meantime...

Which M. Night Shyamalan film is your favorite?
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12:44PM on 05/31/2013

The Sixth Sense

Okay.... I went to see Unbreakable in the cinema after the awesome Sixth Sense...aaaand...fell asleep! somewhere around 45 minutes...litteraly and without exaggeration; fell asleep! My friend woke me up during the creditrolls, and told me "at least the ending was cool" To this day i haven't seen the flick again...
Okay.... I went to see Unbreakable in the cinema after the awesome Sixth Sense...aaaand...fell asleep! somewhere around 45 minutes...litteraly and without exaggeration; fell asleep! My friend woke me up during the creditrolls, and told me "at least the ending was cool" To this day i haven't seen the flick again...
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3:20PM on 05/30/2013
For me UNBREAKABLE is his one and only masterpiece.
For me UNBREAKABLE is his one and only masterpiece.
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12:56PM on 05/30/2013

UNBREAKABLE

Simply because I'm a Comic Fan and liked the unique approach M. Night Shyamalan took in telling the usually generic Super Hero origin tale. But both films are equally great.
Simply because I'm a Comic Fan and liked the unique approach M. Night Shyamalan took in telling the usually generic Super Hero origin tale. But both films are equally great.
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12:35PM on 05/30/2013

Unbreakable hands down!

It was just such a good movie, the fact that a real life Superman may exist in the "real world" The twist is much more effective than Sixth Sense. Which I agree with what some of saying, once you know the twist that Willis has been dead the whole time (SPOILER oops lol), it doesn't have the same impact on repeat viewings.

.I just really wish Shyamalan didn't ruin his reputation as a filmmaker or we might have got the trilogy he was planning. It's really sad he is considered a joke now, I
It was just such a good movie, the fact that a real life Superman may exist in the "real world" The twist is much more effective than Sixth Sense. Which I agree with what some of saying, once you know the twist that Willis has been dead the whole time (SPOILER oops lol), it doesn't have the same impact on repeat viewings.

.I just really wish Shyamalan didn't ruin his reputation as a filmmaker or we might have got the trilogy he was planning. It's really sad he is considered a joke now, I mean even the trailers for After Earth don't mention his name.
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+5
11:00AM on 05/30/2013
Unbreakable is amazing, it wins for me. I've only seen The Sixth Sense one time and I liked it a lot but I just know it won't play as well on a rewatch. Unbreakable gets better every time.
Unbreakable is amazing, it wins for me. I've only seen The Sixth Sense one time and I liked it a lot but I just know it won't play as well on a rewatch. Unbreakable gets better every time.
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10:27AM on 05/30/2013
Id pick Unbreakable but Ive never seen 6th Sense. Once you have that twist spoiled and so present in pop culture theres no forgetting it
Id pick Unbreakable but Ive never seen 6th Sense. Once you have that twist spoiled and so present in pop culture theres no forgetting it
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+7
9:30AM on 05/30/2013

Nice Face-Off!

Unbreakable gets the win and the re-watchable award from me. And yes, still love Sixth Sense.
Unbreakable gets the win and the re-watchable award from me. And yes, still love Sixth Sense.
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8:35AM on 05/30/2013
Disagree. Sixth Sense is a film that's never really grabbed me, but then the twist was spoiled for me before I ever saw it. Same goes for a certain character's identity in Reservoir Dogs, but knowing that going in didn't spoil the film for me. Sixth Sense just isn't that effective without the surprise.
Unbreakable, on the other hand, is just a great film that you can enjoy over and over. So much promise for Shyamalan's career and look where that ended up. I worry that some day he'll try to
Disagree. Sixth Sense is a film that's never really grabbed me, but then the twist was spoiled for me before I ever saw it. Same goes for a certain character's identity in Reservoir Dogs, but knowing that going in didn't spoil the film for me. Sixth Sense just isn't that effective without the surprise.
Unbreakable, on the other hand, is just a great film that you can enjoy over and over. So much promise for Shyamalan's career and look where that ended up. I worry that some day he'll try to revisit Unbreakable because he's clearly not the same guy that made such an innovative and considered movie. Such a cool take on what was at the time an underexplored genre, and some genuinely great performances.
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8:19AM on 05/30/2013
This is tough because I enjoy both films and both are fantastic films that are really well written and have great characters, but if I have to pick one then I choose Unbreakable because I enjoyed the twist more than I did with the Sixth Sense. Both great films.
This is tough because I enjoy both films and both are fantastic films that are really well written and have great characters, but if I have to pick one then I choose Unbreakable because I enjoyed the twist more than I did with the Sixth Sense. Both great films.
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-4
6:46AM on 05/30/2013

WOW...NO.

Unbreakable is his best film by far. There's really no need to argue any points here, the movie stand on it's own as obviously stronger. Bad form with this article.
Unbreakable is his best film by far. There's really no need to argue any points here, the movie stand on it's own as obviously stronger. Bad form with this article.
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6:29AM on 05/30/2013

Sixth Sense is better but Unbreakble's ending is amazing

I thought Unbreakable was pretty slow but the ending made up for it. I loved the whole part when Jackson and Willis shake hands. Sixth Sense is a good thriller with a great performance by Osmand
I thought Unbreakable was pretty slow but the ending made up for it. I loved the whole part when Jackson and Willis shake hands. Sixth Sense is a good thriller with a great performance by Osmand
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+7
6:14AM on 05/30/2013
Unbreakable was better. Sixth Sense is wildly overrated.
Unbreakable was better. Sixth Sense is wildly overrated.
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5:06AM on 05/30/2013
Disagree! I thought unbreakable was an amazing film. Such a great idea and executed nearly flawlessly. The sixth sense is actually one of M. Night Shayamalan's movies I do not like. Samuel L and Bruce are both amazing in Unbreakable.
Disagree! I thought unbreakable was an amazing film. Such a great idea and executed nearly flawlessly. The sixth sense is actually one of M. Night Shayamalan's movies I do not like. Samuel L and Bruce are both amazing in Unbreakable.
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2:56AM on 05/30/2013
Unbreakable is a very good film, but The Sixth Sense is a masterpiece. One cannot ignore the flawed ending from Unbreakable which leaves the viewer in a state of disappointment after the surprising twist (well, at least for me anyway). Despite being mainly known for its twist ending, The Sixth Sense can stand up on its own. There are terrific performances (like the last scene with Toni Collette; I cry like a baby every time), wonderful character arcs, a well-structured story, fantastic
Unbreakable is a very good film, but The Sixth Sense is a masterpiece. One cannot ignore the flawed ending from Unbreakable which leaves the viewer in a state of disappointment after the surprising twist (well, at least for me anyway). Despite being mainly known for its twist ending, The Sixth Sense can stand up on its own. There are terrific performances (like the last scene with Toni Collette; I cry like a baby every time), wonderful character arcs, a well-structured story, fantastic direction, etc. The twist ending is just a cherry on top of an already lovely cake. But seriously, Collette should have won the Oscar. Here's the scene: [link]
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2:54AM on 05/30/2013
The Sixth Sense for me. I remember that at the time it was first released the movie was a breath of fresh air. No one saw that ending coming. You just watched the movie and then the movie just uppercut you right back & forth with that ending.
The Sixth Sense for me. I remember that at the time it was first released the movie was a breath of fresh air. No one saw that ending coming. You just watched the movie and then the movie just uppercut you right back & forth with that ending.
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+0
2:41AM on 05/30/2013
I think if unbreakable had expanded to further movies the fanboys would have been disappointed by the sequels. Psycho still works as a great suspenseful thriller even if knowing all the twist and turns, and the same goes with The Sixth Sense. Unbreakable is a very good movie but The Sixth Sense is a great movie
I think if unbreakable had expanded to further movies the fanboys would have been disappointed by the sequels. Psycho still works as a great suspenseful thriller even if knowing all the twist and turns, and the same goes with The Sixth Sense. Unbreakable is a very good movie but The Sixth Sense is a great movie
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2:22AM on 05/30/2013
Nope
Nope
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+11
1:03AM on 05/30/2013
Unbreakable is still the better movie because you can watch it again without the story having to rely completely on the twist ending. 6th Sense is a one or two watch and you're done. If Shamalamadingdong had done the Unbreakable trilogy like he talked about when this movie first came out, he might have remained a still respected director, instead of the director responsible for making Marky Mark a teacher being attacked by killer trees.
Unbreakable is still the better movie because you can watch it again without the story having to rely completely on the twist ending. 6th Sense is a one or two watch and you're done. If Shamalamadingdong had done the Unbreakable trilogy like he talked about when this movie first came out, he might have remained a still respected director, instead of the director responsible for making Marky Mark a teacher being attacked by killer trees.
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5:08AM on 05/30/2013
I had no idea he was planning on making it a trilogy but he should have, because all I could think at the end was I wanted to see what would happen next.
I had no idea he was planning on making it a trilogy but he should have, because all I could think at the end was I wanted to see what would happen next.
2:55AM on 05/30/2013
"Shamalamadingdong" - Hahahahaha. That cracks me up!
"Shamalamadingdong" - Hahahahaha. That cracks me up!
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