It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
This is a dead movie. I don't know exactly when it passed away, but I think it was dead by the time they started filming it, and it may have died even earlier -- back when somebody bought the notion of filming a "comic thriller" in 3-D. Since comedy requires our close attention and sympathy, and since 3-D is the most alienating movie gimmick since Smell-O-Vision, they were dead then and there.
"The Man Who Wasn't There" is arguably the worst movie from a major studio this year. Better movies have been shelved. This movie is so close to nothing that it's a minor miracle that it was actually released; not in recent memory has a movie, even a bad movie, offered less for your money. There are even shots where the actors seem to be standing around waiting for something to happen.
Maybe the miracle of the film's release isn't that amazing; the film's producer, Frank Mancuso Jr., is the son of the president of Paramount's motion picture division. I know it's probably a cheap shot to bring that up, and yet, try as I will, I cannot conceive of any other reason why this particular movie could have gotten itself made. It has a subliterate script, paralytic direction and wooden performances by actors who have seemed much better elsewhere. There isn't even anything in the movie that looks like a good concept that failed; the movie is bankrupt of wit and imagination.
It doesn't even really exploit the 3-D gimmickry; there are a couple of knives hurled at the screen, and a couple of hilariously unconvincing shots in which actors "fall" toward the camera, and that's that.