Unbroken is based on the true story of Louis Zamperini (Jack O’Connell); an Olympic athlete and lieutenant in the United States Army Air Corps. The majority of the film follows his struggle for survival during the World War 2 period. To begin with, Zamperini spends 47 days adrift in the ocean after surviving a plane crash, only to be rescued by the opposing forces of the Japanese Navy when he then becomes their prisoner and is beaten and traumatised for years before the war ends.
All the elements are there to create a gripping, emotionally intense film, however second-time director Angelina Jolie unfortunately misses the mark. The film’s harrowing (as well as inspirational) themes have been done over and over again in past war-time dramas and Unbroken simply repeats them, not really bringing anything new to the table. The film is also often plagued with corny dialogue and the emotional beats feel forced. By the second half of the film, we’ve already seen the best of what the film has to offer.
The actors’ performances in the film are sound, though aside from Jack O’Connell’s lead character, the rest of the supporting cast are not really given much depth, which is a shame as it is full of potential future stars. Credit however must be given to the actors for undergoing extreme physical transformations for different parts of the film.
One of the high points of the film is its excellent production design and visual aesthetic, especially early on in the film when we are treated to an excellent air-combat scene which appears to capture the correct intensity, look and feel of the moment. With the use of practical set pieces, the look of Unbroken is superb, giving us what appears to be a realistic view at the locations and settings covered in the film.
Unbroken is essentially a tale of survival and that is it’s main focus. We are subject to viewing countless scenes of distress under extreme circumstances, which is pivotal to the story, but unfortunately the foundation is not strong enough to to carry those scenes. While not an entirely bad effort in Jolie’s young directorial career, Unbroken’s story would have been better suited to the likes of more experienced directors such as a Clint Eastwood or s Steven Spielberg – directors that can build brilliant characters while forcing empathy on the viewing audience.
Louis Zamperini became a devoted follower to Jesus Christ and went back to Japan and forgave those who hurt him while he was kept prisoner.