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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Movie Review - Unbroken

Unbroken (2014)
Starring Jack O'Connell, Domhnall Gleeson, Miyavi, and Finn Whitrock
Directed by Angelina Jolie

The courage and sheer will to survive of Mr. Louis Zamperini is incredible and, considering how thematically inspirational it is, I'm surprised his fascinating story hadn't been brought to the screen prior to director Angelina Jolie's Unbroken was released in 2014.  Here's a guy who went from being a misfit child to an Olympic runner to a soldier whose plane was shot down near Japan after which he spent 45 days floating on the ocean with two of his fellow heroes...only to be captured by the Japanese and taken to a prison camp where he found himself the target of a vicious general.  You can't write something like that and make it seem believable if it didn't really happen...but since it did really happen, you can only be in awe of the willpower of Zamperini.  Unfortunately, Jolie's movie doesn't quite find itself firing on all cylinders, wasting most of its gas in the film's admittedly very good first half and petering out in the end.

Jolie crafts a perfectly adequate film in Unbroken and it's obvious that she has the utmost respect for Zamperini (played in the film by Jack O'Connell), but despite the crisp look of the piece, the film feels oddly empty.  For all of this guy's struggles, I never found myself emotionally invested in the character in the way that I wanted to be.  Jolie is absolutely at her best in the scenes after the plane crash in the riveting time at sea on two small yellow rafts with Zamperini and his two fellow soldiers Phil and Mac (Domhnall Gleeson and Finn Whitrock).  When her focus shifts to the Japanese war camp headed by the sadistic Watanabe (played by Miyavi) in the film's final hour, the emotional struggle to survive so present in the film's first half fades away when it should've become perhaps even more relevant.  Unable to carry this important emotional aspect through the entire piece is a bit of a disappointment.

With great technical aspects all around -- cinematography, score, costumes -- and solid acting, the potential for Unbroken seems disappointingly untapped.  This is the first film I've seen directed by Jolie and I appreciate her eye behind the lens.  Considering the obvious admiration she holds for Mr. Zamperini, it's a shame the film didn't resonate as emotionally impactful as it should have.

The RyMickey Rating:  C+

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