MOVIE REVIEW: “Unbroken”

Release Date: December 25, 2014

Running Time: 2 hours and 17 minutes

Rated PG-13

Grade: A

Directed By: Angelina Jolie


Jack O’Connell as Louis Zamperini

C.J. Valleroy as Young Louis

Domhnall Gleeson as Russell Allen ‘Phil’ Phillips

Takamasa Ishihara as Mutsushiro Watanabe

Garrett Hedlund as John Fitzgerald

Jai Courtney as Hugh ‘Cup’ Cuppernell

Finn Wittrock as Francis ‘Mac’ McNamara

Alex Russell as Pete Zamperini

John D’Leo as Young Pete

Maddalena Ischiale as Louise Zamperini

Vincenzo Amato as Anthony Zamperini

Savannah Lamble as Sylvia Zamperini

Survival. Resilience. Redemption.”

Academy Award® winner Angelina Jolie directs and produces Unbroken, an epic drama that follows the incredible life of Olympian and war hero Louis “Louie” Zamperini (Jack O’Connell) who, along with two other crewmen, survived in a raft for 47 days after a near-fatal plane crash in WWII—only to be caught by the Japanese Navy and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp. Adapted from Laura Hillenbrand’s (“Seabiscuit: An American Legend”) enormously popular book,

Unbroken brings to the big screen Zamperini’s unbelievable and inspiring true story about the resilient power of the human spirit.

If I can take it, I can make it.

The film utilizes flashback technology to tell Louis ‘Louie’ Zamperini’s story as a young man growing up in Torrance, California to immigrant parents.  Louie frequently got into fights with neighborhood bullies who picked on him because the family spoke Italian.  To counteract his propensity for fighting, his older brother Pete invited him to try out for a spot on the track team.  Pete took Louie on training runs and encouraged him to believe that he could do anything.   Louie’s persistence allowed him to excel and soon he started beating Pete’s records.  At age 19, Zamperini was the youngest American qualifier in the 5,000 meter race. During his college years, Louie continued to set records in track and was nicknamed the “Torrance Tornado”.

Most of the film centers on Zamperini’s life as a second lieutenant and bombardier in the United States Army Air Forces, his survival at sea and the two years he spent as a prisoner of war. Angelia Jolie proves she is a gifted director with this epic and gut wrenching tale of survival, resilience and redemption.  The screenplay was masterfully adapted from Hildabrand’s book by the Coen brothers, Richard LaGravenese and William Nicholson.   Talented newcomer Jack O’Connell’s performance was impressive. Takamasa Ishihara’s portrayal of the story’s antagonist, Japanese prison guard Mutsuhiro “The Bird” Watanabe was also notable.

Oscar nominee Roger Deakins provides incredible cinematography.   The B-24 bombers were very realistic.   The raft scenes, although difficult to watch at times, had me on the edge of my seat.  Watch out for the sharks!  The actors were transformed from vibrant men to thin, dehydrated and sunburned versions.  Part of it was make-up and special effects, but I would imagine most of it can be attributed to the personal sacrifices that the actors made.

Unbroken is one of those films that will leave you inspired and hopeful. Make plans to see it this holiday.

~A.S. MacLeod


About A.S. MacLeod