￼I’m a fan of Angelina Jolie for her humanitarian work across the globe, ￼but it’s so awesome to see a female director take on a war story — and do it well. ￼She didn’t shy away from the challenge.
￼During a press conference for the film that one of my New York writers attended, ￼￼Jolie said she never would have envisioned making a film that included shark
￼attacks and plane crashes. ￼”I would never have thought of myself handling that kind of cinematic ￼filmmaking,” she said. “But I cared about the story, so I had to suddenly learn how ￼to do all those things and, and to be honest, it was such an exciting challenge.”￼
And “Unbroken” is SO well done. The attention to detail, along with the lush ￼cinematography and soundtrack, reminds me of a Clint Eastwood film. It’s that ￼good. But brutal — as it should be, to mirror the actual real-life story.
￼Based on Laura Hillenbrand’s book “Unbroken,” the film tells the true story of ￼￼Louis Zamperini (Jack O’Connell), an Olympic athlete who wow’d onlookers during ￼the 1936 Olympics by running the final lap of the 5,000-meter event in a record-￼breaking 56 seconds.
￼He later went off to fight during WWII, and after his plane crashed in the Pacific ￼Ocean, survived 47 days adrift in a raft, battling sharks, dehydration and heat. He ￼and his remaining crew member were picked up by a Japanese naval ship, and ￼Zamperini spent two years in a POW camp under brutal conditions. He was continuously beaten and tortured by a sadistic Japanese officer named Watanabe ￼(Takamasa Ishihara), nicknamed “The Bird” because the prisoners couldn’t call
￼him what they wanted to.
￼”Unbroken” is a remarkable story of strength, grace and forgiveness. Having a bad ￼day? Just think about what Zamperini endured, partly through resourcefulness ￼and grit, partly by holding onto the lessons his brother taught him as a kid when ￼he seemed to be heading in the wrong direction.
￼The childhood scenes are told in flashbacks, and the film lingers on the raft ￼scenes, which while giving us a sense of the guys’ extended desperation, could ￼have been shortened and replaced with more scenes in the past and future. I ￼would have loved to know a little more about that time, especially how he ￼managed to get through his horrific PTSD after the war.
But look, “Unbroken” is an amazing film about an incredible man that illustrates the power of the human spirit to survive and triumph in the face of unspeakable
horror. Be sure to stay through the end credits to see footage of Zamperini, who died shortly before the film was released.
Reel Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Reels
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for war violence, including intense sequences of brutality, and for brief language
Best for Ages: 14+
Genre: Drama, War, Biography
Runtime: 137 minutes
Directed by: Angelina Jolie
Studio: Universal Pictures
Cast: Jack O’Connell, Takamasa Ishihara, Domhnall Gleeson, Jai Courtney
JANE’S REEL RATING SYSTEM:
One Reel – Even the Force can’t save it.
Two Reels – Coulda been a contender
Three Reels – Something to talk about.
Four Reels – You want the truth? Great flick!
Five Reels – Wow! The stuff dreams are made of.
Jane Boursaw is a well-known film critic and editor-in-chief of Reel Life With Jane. Images in this review used courtesy of Universal Pictures.