The Reckoner!

The Sixth Sense was great. Unbreakable was pretty darned good. Will M. Night Shyamalan ever direct another good movie?

I think most of us have probably seen this infamous graph that plots the Tomatometer ratings of M. Night Shyamalan's career over time.  Notice the trendline.  

No, this comes as a surprise to precisely no one.  A new Shayamalan movie being worse than the one before it is almost fait accompli at this point, a bi-annual tradition on par with watching A Charlie Brown Christmas -- it comforts you with tradition even as it bums you out. 

It didn't always seem this way though.  In watching The Sixth Sense again recently, I was reminded that that was a really honking good movie.  Even if you already know the twist ending -- soon to be Shyamalan's crutch -- it does a tremendous job at generating tension and sketching relatable characters.  It's swell, and has aged quite well.

Then Shyamalan made Unbreakable and Signs (Delaware Valley, represent!), which were officially in the "very good but flawed" category.  "Very good but flawed" transitioned to "too flawed to enjoy" for The Village and Lady in the Water.  Then "too flawed to enjoy" gave way to "laughably incompetent" for The Happening and The Last Airbender, which is where we are today.

In the meantime, the man himself has done his part by embodying a sort of maniacal, self-deluded egomania that makes his Icarian trajectory that much more fun to relish.  And yet his films still make enough money to earn him more chances, continuing a tradition we can all warm our hands against.

But maybe, just maybe, he's got another legitimately decent film left in him?  Perhaps he will finally hit the disaster that humbles him enough to listen to criticism again and reign in his worst excesses -- to the point where he can direct quality films again?  Another Sixth Sense seems unlikely, but perhaps there's another Unbreakable swirling around in there somewhere?

What say you, Reckonauts -- is the Shyamalanster washed up for good, or does he have a good movie left in him?

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Reckoning Comments!

Yes, incredibly, even his worst films are still profitable.  The Last Airbender was apparently a tremendous hit overseas (as all his movies tend to me), and made money despite (a) being beyond awful and (b) alienating the fans of its source material before it even made it to theaters.

Perhaps the man is onto something?  Perhaps he's riding a new wave here,  finding a way to entertain us and empty our wallets through a peculiar brand of calculated incompetence?

Nah.


I went with washed up.  I've got this theory about how some folks should never be given the creative freedom their financial success affords them.  While some people when given greater creative freedom as a result of financial success have turned out great things (I'd put Nolan in here as the most recent example), others, like M. Night, just devolve into an unrecognizable goo of their own idiosyncrasies. 


Based on the creativity and the success of Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, I think that he has another good one hidden in his huge ego. But he's not going to find it until he disposes of all the garbage that makes him think whatever he puts out there is phenomenal cinema... and we should be waiting with baited breath to view it!


The Reckoner!