Plot – After a near-fatal plane crash in WWII, Olympian Louis Zamperini spends a harrowing 47 days in a raft with two fellow crewmen before he’s caught by the Japanese navy and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp.
Director – Angelina Jolie
Released – 2014
Strangely Angelina Jolie’s second effort at directing a feature film passed me by upon release, so when I happened upon a copy I was intrigued to find out more, it has all the elements to be successful, a competent director, powerful story and talented leading man, sadly, however, I have to report that Unbroken cannot convert these ingredients into the entertaining film it could have been, which is a shame as the story of Louis Zamperini is remarkable and absolutely deserves to be told.
The events that Louis Zamperini (O’Connell) goes through during Unbroken, feel almost too fantastical to be true, going from Olympic runner to prisoner of war in a WWII Japanese camp, with 47 days spent stranded at sea in the middle, however, the events are true and shows only a little of what Zamperini accomplished during his life, which makes it even more surprising or should I say disappointing that the film misses the mark so spectacularly.
Unbroken isn’t a poor film, but a one that feels like a TV movie. Even Rodge Deakins excellent cinematography doesn’t do enough to make up for the overall blandness. As a whole, the entertainment experience of Unbroken is not a satisfying one. They do not afford the astounding events Louis goes through with any significance and don’t produce the level of emotion you would expect.
Unbroken suffers from a series of bad editing choices and under par direction by Jolie, while the dialogue throughout feels clunky at the best of times and cheesy at worst, which is a shame as O’Connell is undoubtedly trying his hardest to make it work and give the film some poignancy. Jolie also seems unable to craft a balance between the different parts of Zamperini’s journey, with his time at the Olympic and military career feeling rushed, while his time at sea and in captivity drag out, with not enough in the way of events to justify this.
Overall, Unbroken isn’t awful, just not an overly good one. It contains too many inconsistencies to be entertaining and that results in the film ending up forgettable.
If you liked: Hacksaw Ridge, Race, 1917