Cert: 15 Runtime: 137 mins Director: Angelina Jolie Cast: Jack O’Connell, Takamasa Ishihara, Domhnall Gleeson, Garrett Hedlund and Jai Courntey
If you can take it, you can make it
Jack O’Connell seems to be the rising star in the world at the moment. He was an award contender at one point in time, but it all went wrong. Personally I didn’t really want to watch this film but we must solider on with these things I guess. What is Unbroken about then? As a rebellious youth, Louis Zamperini (Jack O’Connell) is encouraged by his brother Pete (Alex Russell) to channel his energies into running. But war puts a stop to his Olympic track career as he volunteers for the Air Force. Following a crash landing in the Pacific, Louis and his two fellow survivors spend 47 gruelling days adrift in a life raft, at the mercy of sharks and the elements. But his ordeal is only just beginning. Captured by the Japanese, he’s taken to a series of brutal prisoner of war camps.
Unbroken is a mixed bag. On one hand, it feels like extreme Oscar- bait and over done, but on the other, it feels like it shows potential in Angelina Jolies’ directing skills and I don’t think it should be completely torn apart like a lot of people are doing. I think the strongest thing about this is the general story. It’s based on a true story, and it really is incredible. Much respect to the actual men who went through this, because it obviously takes a strong person to get through it. Obviously this is the theme of the film. Staying strong through tough times and being “unbroken” so to speak. But sadly a good performance from Jack O’Connell and some occasionally nice cinematography and directing by Jolie isn’t enough. The film tries way to hard to be that film that makes you cry because the character is so strong and the whole time you feel the film saying “give me an Oscar! Look! Emotion! Hardships!” instead of straight up showing you a situation that a strong man got through, and that’s its biggest issue. In that sense, films like Rescue Dawn do it much better. This feels to artificial and tries too hard.
Not much in the film itself got an emotional response, EXCEPT for the final words before the credits, that actually show the real Louis Zamperini, running the Olympic torch in Japan. It’s such a strong image to see and almost brought a tear to my eye. But I guess that shows it might have been better as a documentary of sorts.There was also some odd moments throughout. Zamperini and two other men find themselves floating out at sea, and in a really great scene at night we see sharks surrounding them. This builds tension extremely well, but I found it ruined when it climaxes with a kind of laughable jump scare where the shark jumps out at a character. The character of Watanabe is supposed to be a terrifying Japanese internment camp leader, but occasionally comes across as weird of laughable. I guess that sums up a lot of sequences. Could have been really moving or shocking, but kind of came across as weird.In the end, I thought it was okay. The runtime of 2 hours and 17 minutes feels more like 3 hours and 17 minutes because of some dragging, but I’m glad I learned about Zamperini and his story, because it’s worth hearing.