Movie Review: Unbroken (2014)

Posted: November 4, 2015 in Drama
Tags: ,


Louis Zamperini (CJ Valeroy, Jack O’Connell ) is an Italian immigrant with a penchant for getting into small time trouble.  He finds solace in running, but he doesn’t think he’s good enough to make the Olympics.  With his brother Pete’s  (John D’Leo, Alex Russell) encouragement and lots of training, he qualified for the 1936 Olympics while still in high school.  He finished sixth in the 1936 Olympic Games. He enlisted in the Air Force in 1941 as a bombardier, and on a search and rescue mission, Louis engines fail and spends 47 days on a raft with fellow flyers Phil (Donhall Gleeson) and  Mac .(Finn Whitlock)  Louis and Phil’s ordeal gets worse when they get captured by the Japanese,  and become POW’s ?  Do they escape?  Are they rescued?

Louis Zamperini’s life is so amazing, Olympic runner, fighter pilot, POW, that he deserves a great movie to tell his great story.  Unfortunately this is not that story.  It tries to be part Chariots of Fire, part The Great Escape with some Life of Pi thrown in for good measure, unfortunately the story is too hackneyed, and goes from point A to point B, to point C with no flair and little drama, even though the story is not told in a linear way.   It’s not anywhere as good as either Chariots of Fire or The Great Escape, and I don’t know whether to blame the screenplay or the direction, probably both are to blame.  I’m disappointed, because I was really looking forward to seeing this film, and it just fell flat. The movie was written by the Coen brothers, and I am shocked, because they  usually add lots of flair and drama to their stories.

The acting is oddly flat and emotionless, I wanted to see something other from Jack O’Connell and Domhall Gleeson than what I saw.  I’m neither a xenophobe nor a chauvinist, but are there no young American actors to play American heroes?  Why do I have to listen for a British or Irish accent to slip in to an American accent in the middle of a movie?  I shouldn’t have to.

Director Angelina Jolie drenches this movie in a sepia tone, that’s supposed to tell viewers it’s a movie of historical significance.  It doesn’t work.  The length of the individual scenes is too long, and that brings the pacing to a crawl, and that hurts the overall film.  The special effects were sloppy, I actually saw the green screen in one scene, that shouldn’t happen in a major motion picture.  Repeated showings of torture actually dilute the intended effect of the scenes. She gets nothing from her young actors, which is disappointing, because I think she is a good actress.  I won’t say that this is a vanity project, but I will say that she needs a lot of work as a director.

Unbroken:  Should be taken in for repairs.

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