David Dunn (Bruce Willis) is the sole survivor of a devastating train wreck. Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) is a mysterious stranger who offers a bizarre explanation as to why David escaped without a single scratch -- an explanation which threatens to change David's family and his life forever.

Former star quarterback David Dunn is the sole survivor of a train crash that leaves him completely unharmed. After a memorial service for the victims, David finds a note on his car asking how long it’s been since he has been ill and inviting him to “Limited Edition”, an art gallery operated by comic book expert, Elijah Price. He goes with his son Joseph to meet Elijah, who suffers from brittle bone disease. Elijah explains his theory of real-life superheroes, and that there must be someone “unbreakable” at the opposite extreme. David is unsettled and leaves but later finds he can bench press 350 pounds (160 kg), well above his expectations. Joseph idolizes his father, believing him to be a superhero, although David maintains that he is an ordinary man.

David challenges Elijah’s theory with an incident from his childhood when he almost drowned and contracted pneumonia. Elijah suggests that highlights the common convention whereby superheroes have a weakness, contending that David’s is water. David recalls the car accident in which he had been unharmed and ripped off the car door with his bare hands to rescue his girlfriend, Audrey. He feigned injury from the crash to quit football because Audrey disliked the violence of the sport.

Under Elijah’s influence, David realizes that his intuition for picking out dangerous people in his work as a security guard is actually extrasensory perception. Consciously honing this ability, David discovers that touch contact with people brings him visions of criminal acts they have committed. As people bump into him in a crowd, he senses the crimes they have perpetrated such as theft, assault, and rape. He finds one to act on: a sadistic janitor who has invaded a family home, killed the father, and is now holding the mother and two children captive. David follows the janitor to the victims’ house and frees the children. The janitor pushes him into a swimming pool where he nearly drowns as he cannot swim, but is rescued by the children. David strangles the janitor to death, but finds the janitor has killed the mother. The next morning, David shows Joseph a newspaper article featuring a sketch of the anonymous hero, whom Joseph recognizes as his father and tearfully promises to keep his secret.

David meets Elijah’s elderly mother, who explains the difference between villains who fight heroes with physical strength and those who use their intelligence. Elijah asks David to shake his hand, which reveals that Elijah was responsible for numerous high-profile “accidents,” including David’s train crash, to find his superhero rival. Elijah tells David, “Now that we know who you are, I know who I am”. He adopts his childhood nickname, “Mr. Glass,” as his supervillain moniker. David reports Elijah’s crimes to the police, and Elijah is confined to a psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane.

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