Unbroken, directed by Angelina Jolie is a film that takes a while to find its footing but once it does it becomes a compelling and heart filled story, though one that does miss some beats.
Angelina Jolie’s third outing in the director’s chair gives us a film that is certainly worth noticing. Unbroken is the telling of the true story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic Athlete during the 1936 games in Germany and then after the beginning of the second world war a member of a bomber crew which saw him taking part in raids on strategic Japanese locations. Zamperini does not have an easy time in the war, with his plane crashing in the open sea and him and his surviving crewmen subsequently being captured and sent to a P.O.W camp.
In the film Louis Zamperini is played by the brilliant Jack O’Connell. O’Connell really is superb in this film, he plays Zamperini with a reserved, controlled nature about him, in Zamperini’s hardest of times O’Connell really does command the screen and your attention. What highlights this the most is when O’Connell shows those moments where his character is struggling with his situation, there aren’t many of the moments but when O’Connell lets loose it is extremely powerful to watch. However O’Connell doesn’t seem to be given enough time to show what it is he does best, at times the dialogue he has to deliver feels wonky and out of place and there are times where you are just desperate for him to be given something to do, this is never more prevalent than one particular time in the film where we follow Zamperini and his fellow crewmen as they try to survive the trouble that come with being stranded at open sea. This section is enjoyable to watch at first but begins to drag on for way too long and soon the film began to lose my attention, the longer these scenes went on the more I was begging for anyone to show up and rescue them, even if it was the enemy.
Once the film gets past the frustratingly long stranded section the film really does shine, the scenes within the P.O.W camp are definitely this films best. O’Connell really gets to stretch his acting muscles here and it is in these scenes that we meet the cold and sadistic commanding officer of the camp, Sergeant Watanabe played by Takamasa Ishihara. Like O’Connell, Ishihara is brilliant in the film, his unpredictable and cruel want to deliver punishment to our lead character really are some of the most intense and well done moments in the film. Both of these actors elevate one another and certainly keep your attention fixed on the two of them, had these scenes not been as good as they were this film would have probably not worked at all.
One of the final points I want to make about this film is the wonderful and heart-warming way in which it treats the story of Louis Zamperini. By the end of this film I was fascinated by his story and was really interested to learn more about his life and that’s probably the best thing to come from this film, it treated Mr Zamperini’s real life story with the care and respect it deserved and this film in the end did good by him and didn’t tarnish his memory.
I would certainly recommend Unbroken to people; this is a film that treats its source material well and despite its struggling start is a film that is definitely worth your time.