By Curtis Linnell
I need start off with a disclaimer. I did not read the book “Unbroken” even though dozens of friends told me to. I apologize I will not be able to tell if the book is better than the movie. I will say that the movie has inspired me to read the book.
What is it?
“Unbroken” tells the story of Louie Zamperini who ran track for the U.S. at the 1936 Olympics, and was shot down over the Pacific during World War II. Zamperini survived 47 days at sea just to be rescued by the enemy and sent to a Japanese prison camp for three years. It is one of the greatest true stories brought to the big screen in some time.
In only her second feature as a director, Angelina Jolie showcases that she is serious about focusing more on directing. The film is beautifully shot. She also gets some pretty good performances from the actors. Louie Zamperini is portrayed by British actor Jack O’Connell who is fantastic in the film. O’Connell is a star on the rise and definitely did the part justice. The script had some help from the popular brothers Joel and Ethan Coen, who with a few other writers had the hard task of turning the book into a 2 hour and 17 minute movie.
“Unbroken” is a very good film but it is not a great film. I can see why it was not nominated for a Golden Globe Award for best film like the studio was hoping. The story itself is so good that it can’t help but inspire audiences. Most studios in Hollywood could have pulled this movie off since it is such a great story. It almost feels like a well-done documentary would have had the same effect as the movie did. There was a lot the film did right and some things it did not.
What's in it?
The first half of the movie including the part lost at sea was done incredibly well. There is great character development and it is an emotional ride of engaging ups and downs. You really start to get to know and love Zamperini. The second half is where it started lacking the fire that would have made this a great movie. It may be that the reality of the true story isn’t meant for the big screen. In the second half of the movie, as Zamperini endlessly suffers and is tortured, the punishment and harsh treatment becomes so routine that a viewer may easily become emotionally numb to what must have been a horrifying and agonizing experience. Not to say they should not have shown all the afflictions he had, but not much breaks up all the punishment he took while in the prison. It was an ambitious feat to take on so much material and try to squeeze it into a two-hour movie.
At the end of the film there is text on the screen explaining what happened to Zamperini following the war. It would have been great to see a little of that in the movie itself. It would have brought everything home.
Will I like it?
“Unbroken” is still a fine film and it is worth full price of admission. You will leave the theater inspired and will have more love and respect for the men and women who served and still serve our country. Louie Zamperini passed away earlier this year and this movie is a great tribute to him and all he stood for.
Although rated PG-13, “Unbroken” has some pretty heavy subject matter that may not be suitable for children. The violence against Zamperini is hard to watch at times.