Saturday, January 17, 2015

Movie Review ... Unbroken


unbroken_australian_poster-600x888‘Unbroken’ is another addition to the ‘inspiration genre’.  Meant to drive audiences to reach for their goals no matter the obstacles, such films have been well-meaning.  That doesn’t necessarily make them captivating with the same message used ad infinitum.  In the hands of director Angelina Jolie, the actress steps behind the camera to conjure a slow-paced tale.  Whilst filled with good intentions, ‘Unbroken’ gradually becomes less than inspirational.

Louise Zamperini (Jack O’Connell) is a famous Olympian turned army recruit caught in the throes of World War 2.  Flying a bomber plane during a deadly flight it crashes into the ocean.  Barely surviving after 47 days, he and his crew are captured by Japanese soldiers.  Sent to a series of POW camps, the treatment received from camp commander Watanabe (Miyavi) pushes emotional limits.  Determined to stand up to his captors, Zamperini’s resolve shows his true nature against impossible odds.

Based on Zamperini’s war-time experiences, ‘Unbroken’ had potential.  Unfortunately much is wasted due to Jolie’s leaden direction.  Whilst the glacial pace mirrors the endless brutality Zamperini suffered, it only serves to highlight ‘Unbroken’s’ deficiencies including the lifeless performances and over-reliance on the main message.  ‘If you can make it, you can take it’ is a motif spoken many times in case viewers miss the point.  Due to the simplistic handling of the material, that theme becomes a heavy weight that almost sinks the film.

‘Unbroken’s’ few moments of clarity emerge when focussing on the soldier’s comradeship.  This brings a sense of determination in overcoming odds despite the harsh treatment.  In these sequences Miyavi succeeds in making his sadistic Commander alarmingly real.  O’Connell tries his best in spite of a wandering American accent but shares the lack of charisma befalling most of his co-stars.  

Long a passionate believer in the story, ‘Unbroken’ lacks much of it under Jolie’s charge.  Whilst commendable in intent, ‘Unbroken’ feels like a lightweight version of someone’s struggle of survival and courage.

(L to R, foreground) Louis ?Louie? Zamperini (JACK O?CONNELL) is tormented by The Bird (MIYAVI) in ?Unbroken?, an epic drama that follows the incredible life of Olympian and war hero Zamperini who 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.

Movie Review Rating out of 10:  6

Movie Review by Patrick Moore

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