I love this kind of movie that takes a high concept and slows everything down. I loved unbreakable and split so I was highly anticipating this film. I was really into the first 90% of this movie. I thought it was great as an idea and loved the feel of it. It was no conventional comic book film, it was a throwback. It was based on the classic comics of the golden age, back when a man being able to lift a car inspired awe, before all the space operas, complex nanotechnology, and absurdly unlimited powers that dominate the industry today. So of course some major elements were too on the nose, some exposition seemed too earnest, and the story was somewhat familiar. So were Golden Age comics. I saw this as wholly intentional, this concept was about putting complex compelling characters in a simple classic story of heroes and villains and seeing how that would work.
This movie really soared in the moments where the characters finally showcase their abilities, he shoots those scenes with such a reverence for enhanced ability. We have become so desensitized to superhuman feats on screen, between IronMan’s space traveling, or Superman’s endless reservoir of powers, or Captain Marvels cheat-code like dominance, we become more detached to the concept of superhuman ability. This movie dialed everything back and implored us to look more closely as a man dented a reinforced steel door with nothing but his shoulder, or bent bars with his hands, or was always three steps ahead of licensed professionals. I loved that MKS was able to convey that awe with such seemingly underwhelming abilities by today’s standards, it shows that stakes are all about character, not saving the universe or destroying some mystical doomsday device. Macavoy again was Oscar nom worthy it one of the harder roles I’ve ever seen.
Possible spoiler Alert!
The MKS twist didn’t need to happen. It was underdeveloped, lazy, and forced. None of the revelations were earned and it didn’t do anything to shore up character arcs. I’d be interested to see an extended directors cut that may make those moments more satisfying but considering it was a self financed trilogy ender for 20 mil I doubt there was much studio interference. I can’t imagine how this ending made the final shooting script, it undercut all of the originality in the first hours of the film. Sarah Paulson was underwhelming as “Dr. Exposition Machine”. Some of her scenes were cringe inducing. Willis and Sam Jackson were just fine, I was hoping for much more. Honestly though the vast majority of this film is worth a watch and takes respectable risks subverting an increasingly stale genre of films.