M Night Shayamalan's Unbreakable has a great first thirty minutes - it starts with an intriguing premise about a man who improbably survives a train crash and then begins to wonder if that was just good luck or proof that he's somehow special, then adds in some inspired camera work and incredible cinematography to make the whole thing sing.
Unfortunately, it's middle thirty minutes is boring as hell, because Bruce Willis' character goes about answering the question "have I secretly been a superhero my whole life?" not by trying to fight crime or pull off ridiculous feats of strength but rather by asking his wife / boss / middle school teacher "have I ever gotten sick? No? Huh, that's weird, maybe I *am* special." Huge chunks of the middle are redundant as various characters simply re-affirm things we already knew, it feels glacial because Shyamalan generally uses long drawn out takes even though quick montage-y scenes would fit the material better, and the scoring - holy hell, the score is better suited for an English Patient style weepy drama than a superhero movie.
But the ending - the ending is the fucking worst. (Spoilers for a seventeen year old movie ahead, obvs.) In the last scene of the movie Bruce Willis realizes his new chum Mr. Glass is actually a supervillian - so he shakes his hand, turns around, walks away, and then there's a line of text that just says "he called the cops, they arrested Mr. Glass, he's in an asylum now" before it smash cuts to ten minutes of credits. (TEN!)
WTF?!? I can understand not wanting to have a big showy action scene at the end - it wouldn't be fair, given that the hero is invulnerable and the villain has bones made of glass - but they don't even get into a verbal confrontation? We don't even see the cops get called? Just... a two sentence postscript and then adios, see you next year for Signs?
Unbreakable's terrible conclusion is oddly similar to the scene in the Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie episode of the Simpsons where Homer refuses to record Poochie's dying monologue so the animators (who are dead set on killing Poochie off) freeze-frame the animation in an awkward spot and throw up some text that says something like "Then Poochie was summoned back to his home planet and PS he died on the way". Except... The Simpsons did that as a joke, but M. Night legit tried to get away with that.
All of which raises the question: did Unbreakable end the way it did because Bruce Willis was summoned to his home planet on the penultimate day of filming? Was he an alien who could not finish the movie for reasons beyond his control? And if that did really happen then who has been playing "Bruce Willis" ever since? Another alien in a different Bruce Willis suit? Someone should call the Men in Black and get them on the case because I need a definitive answer about why this movie sucked so bad STAT.
Winner: The Cat