Starring: Jack O’Connell, Takamasa Ishihara, Domhnall Gleeson, Jai Courtney, Finn Wittrock, C.J. Valleroy
Directed By: Angelina Jolie
Written By: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, Richard LaGravenese, William Nicholson
Rating: PG-13 (US) Running Time: 2 hr 17 min
Louis Zamperini (Jack O’Connell) survived a plane crash, was adrift at sea for 47 days, and then spent the rest of the Second World War in a Japanese prison camp. At the end of this harrowing journey, his spirit wasn’t ‘broken’. Get it? My spirit on the other hand – well I’ll just say it was touch and go throughout the 137 minutes it took to tell this story. But here’s the thing, this film should have been longer.
Now I’m not saying Unbroken is a bad movie, and I do recommend a visit to your local theater to see it. Angelina Jolie has done a commendable job of guiding this story to film, and Roger Deakins’ photography requires a big screen to be properly appreciated. Jack O’Connell turns in a great leading performance too.
It’s just all so familiar. Instead of bringing her own perspective and style to this war-time drama, it seems Angelina Jolie has decided to play it safe. Giving us big visuals, and clichéd moments of heroism and torture. Playing Alexandre Desplat’s lovely score to tell the audience to expect a moving moment. Delivering said moving moment. Then moving on to the next scene. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
Some of these moments feel genuine, others didn’t, and despite the writing talent involved, I was amazed how perfunctory the dialog was. It’s like the film couldn’t decide if it was going to be a proper biopic about Louis Zamperini, or a tense drama focused on the relationship Louis had with Watanabe, the Japanese soldier in charge of the POW camp. If it was the former, then it’s missing some interesting aspects of Zamperini’s life after the war. The latter, well that’s just not developed enough, making Louis’s ‘victory‘ feel hollow because Watanabe’s mission to supposedly break this man was never clearly established as a goal.
But this is just my opinion, which is partly informed by the ridiculous number of films I watch. What’s familiar to me, is likely new to someone who only sees a handful of films in a year. Which I was reminded off during the credits for Unbroken, when the audience loudly applauded.
If you enjoy a well made World War II drama, then I think you’ll be entertained by Unbroken. Even though the movie has several scenes depicting the cruel treatment of prisoners, the film’s PG-13 rating makes sure none of that gets too graphic or disturbing.
This is a beautiful film to watch, and an absolute must see on the big screen. If you wait for the rental, make sure you get a HD copy for a screening on your nice big TV. I don’t recommend you view Roger Deakins’ visuals on a laptop, tablet or phone sized screen.
Best Moment: << spoiler >>
The most moving moment for me, was actually during the post movie report about the key players in this true story. And I loved the video footage of the then 80-year-old Louis Zamperini running with the Winter Olympic torch through Nagano, Japan, not far from the POW camp where he had been held during the war.