Tuesday, January 6, 2015

"Unbroken" Review - Written by Tim Hellman

'UNBROKEN': Four Stars (Out of Five)

World War II flick directed by Angelina Jolie and co-written by the Coen brothers. It's based on the book 'Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption', by Laura Hillenbrand, and tells the story of USA Olympian Louis Zamperini. The film details how he survived 47 days on a raft, after his bomber crashed in the ocean, and many more days of torture and harassment at multiple POW camps, during the war. It stars Jack O'Connell, Domhnall Gleeson, Miyavi, Garrett Hedlund, Finn Wittrock and Jai Courtney. It was adapted for the screen by Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, Richard LaGravenese and William Nicholson and it's Jolie's third directorial effort (to date). The film has done well at the Box Office (thus far) but it's also gotten mostly negative reviews from critics. So it's possible upcoming award recognition has become uncertain. I enjoyed the movie but it's certainly not a great film and it's definitely not one of the best of the year, either.

O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini, an Olympic athlete who also served as a bomber pilot during World War II. His plane crashed in the Pacific Ocean, where he (and two other crew members) lived on a raft for 47 days. Zamperini was then caught by the Japanese navy and sent to multiple prisoner-of-war camps. He went on to survive years of grueling physical, and mental, torture while being abused by a sadistic Japanese corporal (Miyavi), who was jealous of his athletic accomplishments. The film shows how Zamperini used his athletic abilities, and Olympic training, to push on and survive.

The film is well made, from a technical standpoint, and Jolie definitely shows some skill, and talent, as a director. The acting is all decent enough and the story is interesting and somewhat inspiring. It just seems like it should have been more involving (and moving). I definitely never felt that emotionally interested, in anything going on in the movie. While it is entertaining, it also doesn't leave the viewer with much to think about (or even look back on and admire) after it's over. It's a good war film, especially for those who love the genre, but it's certainly not a great one; or an Oscar worthy film by any means.

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