Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, The Sixth Sense follows child psychiatrist Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) as he attempts to help a young boy (Haley Joel Osment’s Cole Sear) break out of his shell – with complications ensuing as it becomes clear that Cole is able to see and interact with dead people. There are certainly plenty of elements within The Sixth Sense worth embracing and admiring – Willis, for example, delivers one of his very best performances here – and yet Shyamalan remains unable to wholeheartedly capture the viewer’s interest for the duration of the movie’s slightly overlong running time. It’s ultimately clear that the filmmaker’s decision to employ as deliberate and lackadaisical a pace as one could envision proves fairly disastrous, as the movie, which doesn’t exactly boast the heartiest of narratives, suffers from a pervasive lack of momentum that essentially (and effectively) obliterates any hope of suspense or tension. And while there are a number of strong sequences sprinkled throughout (eg Cole talks to his mother (Toni Collette’s Lynn) about her own deceased parent), The Sixth Sense‘s funereal atmosphere ultimately lessens the impact of the much-vaunted climactic twist and it is, in the end, clear that the film doesn’t entirely work as either a drama or a spooky thriller – with the movie’s mild success due mostly to Shyamalan’s considerable talent and his ongoing ability to wring top-notch work from folks both in front of and behind the camera (ie this is an exceedingly handsome production, undeniably).
**1/2 out of ****