Unbroken

by | Jan 11, 2015 | 0 comments

A Film Whose Faults Are Covered Up By Great Directing and Performance

I missed these journeyed and inspiring World War II films. I thought that the stories had all been dried up, but Louie Zamperini’s story surprises us all; how could such a story not have been told before? Angelina Jolie’s bold directing surprises us, Joel and Ethan Cohen’s script satisfies us, and Jack O’Connell shocks us as ‘the next big thing.’

Unbroken tells the story of Louie Zamperini, a son to Italian immigrants, who as a kid was a troublemaker and thief. Zamperini’s brother pushed him to try out for his school’s track team and there we see that Zamperini is a born runner. As the years go by, Zamperini (Jack O’Connell) is recruited for the US Olympic team that would compete the 1936 Berlin games. However, as WWII breaks out, Zamperini is drafted into the army. During a mission in 1943 Zamperini’s plane crashes at sea. Zamperini along with the pilot Phil (a great Domhnall Gleeson) and new recruit Mac (Finn Wittrock) are left at sea for 47 days. The three men spend those days being harrowed by sharks and shot at by occasional Japanese planes. The group is finally rescued, but by a Japanese ship. Zamperini is then subjected to the torture and abuse of a prisoner-of-war camp officer, Watanabe “The Bird” (Takamasa Ishihara).

The film is powerful and the performances are noteworthy. Jack O’Connell’s charisma not only is reflected in Zamperini’s character, but it drives the whole film and keeps the audience glued to their seats. Domhnall Gleeson also surprises us as he defines himself as quick-learning actor. Gleeson started from a miniscule role in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, but has progressed and moved into more interesting characters in movies like About Time, Frank, and Calvary. Now in Unbroken he might just break into the B-list acting category, it will be only a matter of time before he breaks into the A-list. However, not all the acting was great. There were some serious casting mistakes in Zamperini’s brother both as an adult and as a young boy (Alex Russell and John D’Leo respectively). Both actors have very few lines, but they say them in such a way that it makes them sound extremely cheesy and non-credible. It’s a shame because it ruins the scenes of Zamperini’s childhood. Meanwhile in the prisoner-of-war camp the actor playing The Bird (Takamasa Ishihara) is a little to exaggerated. Ishihara is actually a Japanese pop star, and not a professional actor, and while his acting is more than acceptable, his passion at times is too much and it throws the movie’s balance off, creating a character that is unreasonably evil. When researching the actual person I learned that The Bird tortured his prisoners because he was bipolar and jealous of not becoming an officer having come from a wealthy family where he was used to having everything he wanted. Ishihara doesn’t give his character depth, The Bird doesn’t end up being human, and this lack of background and reasoning for his cruelty makes the relationship between him and Zamperini seem almost comical.

Finally, in regards to the film’s script, while written by two professionals like the Cohen brothers, it seems a little lazy. The lack of depth for some characters and the wispy dialogue throughout is disappointing. However, the ending for the film is what disappointed me most, not the actual factual ending, but the way that it was ended. The final ten minutes seemed extremely rushed, confusing, and outright slothish, not to mention a little cheesy.

However, in the end, Jolie’s directing choices keep the film respectable and intriguing, which along with O’Connell’s incredible acting is enough to cover up the mistakes. Unbroken ends up being the inspiring story it aspired to be.

  • OVERALL MOVIE RATING 74% 74%

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What is your favorite resilience movie? Let me know in the comments section.

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