Film Review: ‘Unbroken’

Unbroken Movie Angelina Jolie

Jack O'Connell plays Olympic athlete and American war hero Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's well-mounted but underwhelming WWII drama.

Impeccable craftsmanship and sober restraint have been brought to bear on “Unbroken,” Angelina Jolie’s beautifully wrought but cumulatively underwhelming portrait of Louis Zamperini, the Olympic runner-turned-U.S. Air Force bombardier who spent 47 days lost at sea and more than two years as a prisoner of the Japanese military during WWII. In re-creating the nightmarish journey so harrowingly relayed in Laura Hillenbrand’s biography, Jolie has achieved something by turns eminently respectable and respectful to a fault, maintaining an intimate, character-driven focus that, despite the skill of the filmmaking and another superb lead performance from Jack O’Connell, never fully roars to dramatic life. A bit embalmed in its own nobility, it’s an extraordinary story told in dutiful, unexceptional terms, the passionate commitment of all involved rarely achieving gut-level impact.

With a major awards push for Jolie and her topnotch collaborators — d.p. Roger Deakins, composer Alexandre Desplat and editors Tim Squyres and William Goldenberg not least among them — Universal should be able to court a sizable worldwide audience for this capably stirring, morally unambiguous and classically polished prestige picture about an unusually spirited member of the Greatest Generation who survived a hell beyond anyone’s imagination. (Zamperini died in July at the age of 97, due to complications from pneumonia.) After languishing in development for decades, the project finally took viable shape with the 2010 publication of Hillenbrand’s book, adapted here by the unlikely team of the Coen brothers (in their third scripting-for-hire gig, after 2012’s “Gambit” and 1985’s “Crimewave”), Richard LaGravenese and William Nicholson.

Regardless of their individual contributions, none of the credited writers faced an easy or enviable task in fashioning a feature-length narrative out of their exhaustively researched source material (for which Hillenbrand interviewed Zamperini 75 times over the course of eight years). In runners’ parlance, “Unbroken” feels like a good, steady 10k where a marathon was arguably called for: For all its scenes of intense deprivation and extreme brutality, the film never quite manages, over the course of 137 carefully measured minutes, to reproduce the feeling of a sustained endurance test. Nor does it succeed in dramatizing the human need for faith and forgiveness, one of its more baldly stated themes, in more than perfunctory, platitudinous terms.

Of course, to expect any movie to place the viewer directly into Zamperini’s spiked cleats, or even begin to approximate the depth and horror of his wartime experiences, would hold it to an impossible standard. Yet the bar is set unreasonably high from the moment “Unbroken” introduces itself as “a true story,” a presumptuous choice of words (the “based on” qualifier is conspicuously absent) that the script never fully earns as it guides us through a series of conventional, connect-the-dots flashbacks. An exciting aerial-combat prologue finds O’Connell’s Louis  — or Louie, as he was more commonly known — flying a rickety B-24 bomber over the Pacific, where he and his comrades drop their payload on Japanese bases, shoot down Zero planes and take plenty of fire in return.

In short order we’re introduced to Louie’s younger self (a perfectly cast C.J. Valleroy), a restless, often bullied and misunderstood kid from Torrance, Calif., whose trouble-making antics give his Italian immigrant parents (Maddalena Ischiale, Vincenzo Amato) no shortage of grief. Yet his older brother Pete (played at different ages by John D’Leo and Alex Russell) soon recognizes that Louie’s talent of getting himself in and out of various scrapes has made him an uncommonly fast runner, and before long the kid is not just a high-school track star but a local legend, hailed in the papers as “the Tornado of Torrance.”

“A moment of pain is worth a lifetime of glory,” Pete tells his brother, in one of those handy, endlessly recyclable nuggets of thematic wisdom that will resonate just a few short scenes later, when 19-year-old Louie makes it to the 1936 Berlin Olympics and places a not-too-shabby eighth in the 5,000-meter race. Although there’s a brief glimpse of Jesse Owens (Bangalie Keita) and swastika flags, foreshadowing events on the not-too-distant horizon, the film notably omits such juicy details as Louie’s brief handshake with Hitler, focusing instead on the lad’s quicksilver ability to defy the odds, to evince a sudden burst of speed or stamina when it counts most — whether that means overtaking his more seasoned opponents on the track, or surviving the horrific ordeal that awaits him on May 27, 1943.

On that day, a B-24 crashes into the Pacific, killing eight men aboard and leaving Louie stranded at sea with his pilot, Capt. Russell Alan “Phil” Phillips (Domhnall Gleeson), and tail gunner, Sgt. Francis “Mac” McNamara (Finn Wittrock). Bobbing along in two life rafts with dwindling rations, fending off attacks by neighboring sharks and Japanese bombers (at one point simultaneously), the three men will last more than a month before Mac succumbs, leaving Phil and Louie to drift, sun-scorched and emaciated, for another 15 days or so. Yet the film’s attempts to convey the slow, arduous passage of time feel rushed and noncommittal, effectively cherry-picking the book’s more memorable nautical setpieces and adding a few temporal markers (“Day 18,” etc.), quick visual dissolves and the stately swells of Desplat’s score. Following a recent wave of intensely immersive survival stories (“All Is Lost” makes a particularly instructive comparison), “Unbroken’s” streamlined, checklist-style approach seems all the more rote and obligatory.

The sense that we’re getting the slightly watered-down version persists when Louie and Phil fall into Japanese hands and are sent to Omori, a POW camp in Tokyo. The two friends are forcibly separated, and for the film’s remaining hour or so, Louie will have a far less welcome companion in the form of Mutsuhiro Watanabe (Miyavi), aka “the Bird,” a terrifyingly sadistic Japanese army sergeant who immediately takes a special interest in this quietly defiant American prisoner, in whom he sees a flickering shadow of his own ferocious life force. Yet Watanabe’s affection manifests itself in the most brutal possible way, as he beats his favorite mercilessly with a kendo stick for minor or nonexistent infractions (the camera rarely flinches even when our hero does), at one point even forcing the other prisoners to line up and punch Louie in the face for no reason, one by one.

Jolie previously examined the dehumanization of war in her little-seen 2011 directing debut, “In the Land of Blood and Honey,” a muddled but provocative drama set in 1990s Bosnia-Herzegovina. “Unbroken” serves up a similarly relentless catalog of wartime woes — filthy conditions, crippling thirst and hunger, back-breaking labor, nonstop verbal and physical abuse, nasty injuries, ritualized humiliations, and the hopeless knowledge that an Allied victory will only bring about the prisoners’ execution. Yet there’s something unmistakably soft-edged, if not sanitized, about these PG-13 horrors, the accrual of which produces a curious sort of paradox by film’s end: What we’ve seen is at once plenty grueling and nowhere near grueling enough, on the basis of what Zamperini really went through. (“Where’re the maggots? Where’s the dysentery?” my screening companion whispered over the closing credits, unsatisfied by a relatively tasteful scene of Louie and his fellow inmates disposing of their presumably disease-ridden excrement.)

Any dramatic account of real-life events must of course filter and condense, yet several omissions in “Unbroken” are especially telling: We’re denied any real sense of the young Louie’s insatiable appetite for mischief; nor do we see him and his comrades conversing in secret code, or paying hilariously flatulent tribute to Japan’s Emperor Hirohito, or conceiving a desperate plot to murder Watanabe — or, barring that, inducing a crippling bout of diarrhea that puts the miserable sergeant out of commission for more than a week. Jolie sensitively conveys the solemn intimacy and tender camaraderie that arise among men at war, but she never captures these soldiers in all their bawdy, rough-and-tumble vigor and rebellious energy; nor does she evoke the fire in Zamperini’s belly that made him not just a survivor but a natural-born leader, his instincts and intellect as nimble as his feet.

To its credit, the movie doesn’t shy away from showing Louie praying his way through much of his ordeal, at one point promising to dedicate his life to God in the unlikely event that he survived. (He did, and he did.) Indeed, “Unbroken” is not above turning its subject into a sort of 20th-century Christ figure, namely when the Bird forces Louie to lift a heavy beam over his shoulders and hold the position for what feels like hours on end. Yet the dramatic seeds that are planted here never fully take root: Zamperini’s post-rescue conversion and his subsequent attempts at a moral reckoning with his captors are dispensed with in the closing titles, leaving you blinking at the unrealized potential of a longer, bolder and more spiritually inquisitive movie than this one.

Where Jolie’s restraint pays off is in her keenly concentrated focus on Louie’s interior journey; there is a brief cutaway to the distressed Zamperini family at a logical point in the narrative, but little in the way of contextualizing dates and details, and only the barest of allusions to the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as the war draws to a close. All in all, given its subject, “Unbroken” is a remarkably quiet picture; the men’s dialogue exchanges tend toward the terse and sardonic, while the silences are often freighted with tension and anxiety, and Jolie wisely lets much of the drama play out in her actors’ unfailingly eloquent faces.

It’s been a while since a young male performer seized the screen with such startling force as O’Connell, whom festival and arthouse audiences may know from his excellent performances in the recent “Starred Up” and the forthcoming “’71.” The conception of his character here may leave something to be desired, but O’Connell’s acting has rarely been more soulful or delicate: Once more he has placed his extraordinary physicality in service of an intensely demanding role, requiring him to run like the wind, stand as still as a stone and undergo any number of weight fluctuations in between. Yet it’s also a performance built from innumerable fine-grained details — a suddenly clenched posture or a quickly downturned glance, to name two of Louie’s natural responses whenever the Bird appears.

Miyavi, a Japanese singer-songwriter making his bigscreen debut, was a smartly counterintuitive choice for the role, and if he never quite nails the perverse sexual rapture that Watanabe derives from the abuse he dishes out, the actor more than upholds his half of the film’s sinister psychological duet. (He also may help stir his fans’ interest in a picture whose matter-of-fact treatment of Japanese brutality will require especially careful handling in Asian markets.) Gleeson, going blond for a change, is excellent as the faithful friend who serves as an occasional spiritual guide to Louie; of the other soldier roles, Garrett Hedlund has the most substantial screen time as Louie’s ally Cmdr. John Fitzgerald.

Whether shooting on land, in air or at sea (with Australian locations ably standing in for all three), Deakins delivers unsurprisingly beautiful images of exceptional richness and clarity. The visuals achieve a particularly vivid sense of place in production designer Jon Hutman’s meticulous re-creations of Omori and Naoetsu, the camp to which Zamperini was transferred in March 1945; no less impressive is the fluidity of the camerawork in and around the tight interiors of the B-24s, enhanced considerably by the input of adviser Bob Livingstone. Even when the characters’ faces and bodies are smudged with blood, mud, soot and worse, the technical package is never short of immaculate.

Film Review: 'Unbroken'

Reviewed at Writers Guild Theater, Beverly Hills, Nov. 30, 2014. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 137 MIN.

Production

A Universal release presented with Legendary Pictures of a Jolie Pas, 3 Arts Entertainment production. Produced by Angelina Jolie, Clayton Townsend, Matthew Baer, Erwin Stoff. Executive producers, Mick Garris, Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni. Co-producers, Michael Vieira, Holly Goline-Sadowski, Joseph Reidy.

Crew

Directed by Angelina Jolie. Screenplay, Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, Richard LaGravenese, William Nicholson, based on the book by Laura Hillenbrand. Camera (color, Alexa digital, widescreen), Roger Deakins; editors, Tim Squyres, William Goldenberg; music, Alexandre Desplat; production designer, Jon Hutman; supervising art director, Charlie Revai; art directors, Bill Booth, Jacinta Leong; set decorator, Lisa Thompson; set designers, Nicholas Dare, Andrew Kattie, Ross Perkin; costume designer, Louise Frogley; sound, David Lee; supervising sound editors, Andrew DeCristofaro, Becky Sullivan; sound designers, Eric A. Norris, Jay Wilkinson; re-recording mixers, Frank A. Montano, Jon Taylor; special effects supervisor, Brian Cox; visual effects supervisor, Bill George; visual effects producer, Steve Gaub; visual effects, Industrial Light & Magic, Animal Logic, Lola VFX; stunt coordinator, Glenn Boswell; assistant director, Joseph Reidy; casting, Francine Maisler.

With

Jack O'Connell, Domhnall Gleeson, Miyavi, Garrett Hedlund, Finn Wittrock, Jai Courtney, John Magaro, Luke Treadaway, Alex Russell, John D'Leo, Vincenzo Amato, Ross Anderson, C.J. Valleroy, Maddalena Ischiale. (English, Japanese, Italian dialogue)

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  1. anne moltchanoff says:

    Unbroken is unremarkable. Takes an amazing book and reduces it to mediocrity. Boring and not emotionally compelling. So disappointed.

  2. Bill Sowles says:

    It is difficult to show all that is in the book. Never the less, Angie did a remarkable job as director with a great story that occurred over 60 years ago. Her portrayal of Louie was as fresh as if it was done in the real world of WWII. “Unbroken” is a movie that I want my children and grandchildren to see.

  3. Gregory says:

    there is a reason for lining up and getting every prisoner to punch Louie. in the movie its to teach Louie respect and in the book its for stealing fish.

  4. Lenny Jennings says:

    Yeah, there were a few things, were they could of picked up the tempo,i.e. The ocean scenes could have been cut into a montage, but over all… it worked. Good job for a newbie Actor/Director, as well as cast and crew. I think the film had a “flavor” all its own. Thats what I look for. To me thats what the Directors do. You either got it….. or you don’t. Ms. Jolie got it!

  5. Angel Howansky says:

    I think the critics are being a little harsh on the movie. I enjoyed the movie and give Angelina and the entire team an A+. Maybe the critics do not want creative female directors to succeed? It may not be picture of the year but it will be a contender. #AngelPR at Angel Howinsky, LLC Celebrity Branding and Publicity.

    • The only people that matter, the public, have spoken, Unbroken is a hit, and that cannot be taken away by any critic with an agenda. Angie always said, the only thing she wanted for this film was that people saw what a great man Louis, was, she succeeded. Congrats Angie, once again, you made the critics, and those with an “agenda”, paid for by others, look like the cowards they are. The film will open in China soon, it should do well, there.

  6. m.heard says:

    I sat in a packed movie theater and the majority of the audience like myself , thought the film was extremely realistic . Ms. Jolie was very brave to take on such a dfifficut story to tell,and yet seemed to have the audience mesmirized. I am sure your critic found that gross and not worth ones dollar to spend on “Gone Girl” an Academy Award winner. What Garbage truck did he fall off?desilou

  7. I don’t believe anyone saw any evidence of what the cult, called Scientologist, believe in the film. Louie calls out to God for help, he didn’t ask for the Mother Ship.

  8. I know a few have said Angie left basically part 2 of Louie’s life out. But, if Louie had never gone through what he did, the torture, and cruelty of the POW camp, there may never have been a “part 2”, the drinking, the abuse of his wife, all that was because of his nightmares from what he had endured. Luckily his wife forced him to that Billy Graham revival, it was a “you go. or I go” type of situation. Angie has said she would have loved to have made a 5 hour film and shown everything, but that wasn’t feasible. That’s why I believe everyone should read the book, even if they have seen the film, to get the whole story of Louie’s life. That still does not take away from the film, which is very uplifting and inspiring.

  9. jim Moore says:

    Oops, it’s Zamperini- my bad

  10. EBW212 says:

    Justin writes, “so harrowingly relayed in Laura Hillenbrand’s biography..” In this case, the word is related, not relayed. Enjoy your reviews, Justin!

  11. Farmer says:

    I read the book. I loved it. I watched the Brokaw interview. I saw the movie. MEAH. Complete retardation. The cinematography was excellent. The actors were compelling. The editing was horrible and the ending abrupt. The footnotes completing the movie were painted with very broad brush strokes. It was a disservice to the great Zamperini. The press is so in the tank for Jolie. I will use this movie and its ratings by reviewers as a benchmark for future viewings.

  12. Tandalayo says:

    I read this book in jail…being there for 8 months..for trying to see my daughter (and there was a protection order, over nothing)… I am a female…but this book helped to give me such strength…you have no idea. I too had to endure the cruelty of guards…poor conditions..but not like our story’s hero. I look forward to seeing the film.. Louie is one of the most memorable men I have ever read about…which is a testament to how many other men and women are the ‘hidden heroes’ of our society…of our whole world. Just because they are not famous, in politics (ha…not many there), celebrities (again, not many there)…is no reason to think they don’t exist….In fact, most of the real heroes are never known…..

    • That’s sad, no one should keep a child from it’s Mother. I’m glad Louie’s story gave you strength, and hopefully things will get better for you. May this New year bring you happiness, and a renewed relationship with your child. I’m sorry to hear you were treated badly in jail, that is so wrong, on so many levels.

  13. Gary says:

    After viewing the entire 2:17 full length film, UNBROKEN on it’s Xmas day opening – the life story of Louie Zamperini & film passes with flying colors! This unbelievable film will persevere despite those critics calling for it’s dismissal or rejection. It’s recommended that you be insistent and go see Unbroken, starring Jack O’Connell & directed by Angelina Jolie for your own gratification & enjoyment. “If you don’t give up, you can win.”

    • More than likely PAID critics, by studios that want their film to have a better box office, or just some that would like to put the “little lady” in her place. How dare Angelina Jolie be as smart, and in most cases, smarter, then the so called powerful men in HW. Angie held her head high, and she’s proving them all wrong, again. Wonder how many dozens and dozens of roses have been sent to Angie by Rudin, today. Hopefully Angie had them sent to a hospital or some other facility, she doesn’t need Rudin, but Rudin certainly NEEDS her, desperately.

  14. Peter Lombardo says:

    Ms. Jolie, did you even read the book? Mr. Zamperini’s battle with alcoholism when he returned from the war, and his subsequent recovery thanks in no small part to the Reverend Billy Graham, was a central part of his story. That is, finally and forever UNBROKEN. How could you have missed this?

    • She was asked to leave it out. The movie is still great. It just focuses on a small part of his life. Yes she read the book and knew Louie well. They were neighbors and friends. I say this as not a fan of her too.

    • lindaj52 says:

      People, please understand, the book was too long to put everything in a 2 hour movie. Angie addresses this fact, there HAD to be a cut off point. And that point was when Louie returned from the war, but don’t get your undies in a bunch, there is still a lot of reference to Louie’s faith in God throughout the film, Angie did not leave that out.

    • Rich says:

      I saw the movie at the Hollywood Premier. Everyone there wanted it to be awesome, but it wasn’t. Not awesome, does not mean “bad” by any means. I think the story was so good, and the book so good, there was a reason the film had not ever been made before, even though the rights were sold for it in the 1950s.

      To depict the whole story and do it justice, the movie really needed to be an unrealistic 5 hours long. There was so much missing, but in order to make it a watchable length, there wasn’t time to develop other characters and situations. That and trying to keep it PG-13 friendly. I would still absolutely recommend seeing the movie, as it would be time and money well spent. If you haven’t read the book yet, you might be better off not doing so, until after you’ve seen the movie. Then for extra credit, get Louie’s autobiography, “The Devil at My Heels”.

  15. Ronni says:

    I have not yet seen this movie, but did read the book, which was awesome. If the book was followed, it has to be good. Never was a fan of Angie, but over the last year I have come to like and respect her. Hope this does well as she put her heart and soul into it…..

  16. Clemdane says:

    I am thankful for this film’s massive, overwhelming ad budget. It’s let me know indirectly about Hillenbrand’s book, which I now can look forward to reading.

  17. Matt says:

    This could have been a spectacular movie with a story worth telling. Instead, it was given to a minimally talented director and she ruined it.

    • kathi says:

      I agree. Minimal at best

    • Angie is getting good reviews for her directing, no one has said anything about Angie not being up to the task of directing this film. People who for unknown reasons hate a woman they do not even know have decide to go after this film. It’s not even coming out till Christmas. Stop embarrassing yourself by saying things against a film no one has been able to see yet.

      • Peter Lombardo says:

        First of all, I don’t hate women. Secondly, I don’t know Ms. Jolie. However, I did read the Ms. Hildebrand’s book. Moreover, I attended a lecture series where Mr. Zamperini himself was the featured speaker. For Ms. Jolie and the producers of “Unbroken” to omit the part the Reverend Billy Graham played in Mr. Zamperini’s batle with alcoholism when he returned from the war is to have missed the essence of his story. He was finally and forever unbroken. It would be like George Bailey in Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” forgetting to thank the angel Clarence during the movie’s final scene.

  18. David says:

    Can anybody explain to me why the compelling story, portrayed in the wonderful book, by Laura Hillenbrand, was turned over to a wanna-be director (Jolie) with bunch of VERY young actors that most of us have never heard of before? From everything I’ve seen and read, this story should have been left up to a pro (i.e. Speilberg, et al). Mr. Zamperini, his family and colleagues deserved to have this story told competently.

    • His family collaborated on the movie so did Louie. ???

    • Research please, it was left out on purpose and by request. Either way, not part of the story time frame. also, the acting was wonderful that comment makes no sense. Who did you want to play young Louie Clint Eastwood?

    • If the writers, the Coen Brothers, and Angie had made the film exactly like the book, it would have an R-Rating, they wanted many young people to see the film, the only way to do that, was to make it a PG-13 film. As Angie said, much of the violence in in the film, is only off camera, you can hear what is happening, but they did not show it, therefore, you can rest assured there is violence in the film, just like the book. The screenplay is as close to the book as they could make it, seeing as they had to put so much of Louie’s life into just over two hours.

      • kathi says:

        Are you Jolies. Spokesperson or something? Aren’t people allowed an opinion without your 2 cents for what ever that’s worth? Allow others to voice their opinions without getting on your soap box please. God who are you anyway????

  19. 1loner says:

    When I saw the trailer I turned to my wife and cringed. This was obviously a sanitized version of the book aimed at a wider/younger audience. I wondered what the author thought of the film and found out she wrote a YA version of the book to be released in November of this year. This is really a shame because the book is powerful and young people need to see what the ugliness of war can do to individuals, nations, and humanity. I was really looking forward to seeing this film.

    • You must “cringe” at almost every movie trailer. Don’t tell me, I can already tell, you’re a fan of Guardians of the Galaxy, right. Got that, low income, low IQ vibe from you.

      • How’s that “diet” working for you, “kathi”. The gastric bypass still keeping your weight under 300 pounds, or have you ballooned back up the Goodyear Blimp you’ve always been mistaken for. Don’t comment if you don’t like the fact others have a different opinion. (Yes, it’s a well known fact, you, yoga chick, Mandy, and also, Big Leigh, the life coach, troll the sites and harass anyone that likes and respects Angie, don’t think for a second people don’t know who you are, or who pays you)

      • kathi says:

        No kidding. What a classless twit!##

      • Obviously you’re part of another film’s PR the way you’re trashing a film you have never seen.

      • Clemdane says:

        Apparently you’re related to someone in the movie the way you are viciously, irrationally attacking anyone who has doubts about it. I’m just going to discount anything you may have to say here.

  20. Peggy Allen says:

    Are there any American actors in hollywood? I keep seeing Australian or British actors portraying Americans. The actor playing the lead doesn’t look American. I thought it was about a British soldier.

  21. Eli says:

    Saw the film at a special screening tonight and it’s a beautiful looking movie, but it’s not a particularly good movie. I never learn why this man is so special above the other survivors and some of it is laughably badly written. The end, which the poster seems to emulate, has a moment of soldiers… I won’t even go further except to say it is the most heavy handed false moment I’ve ever seen in the history of movies. It’s not bad, but it’s neither good… it is simply The Passion of the Lou, as bland entertainment.

    • Did you see Argo, an awful movie, and not even close to the truth, even though it was supposedly a “true” story.
      What about August, Osage County, I cringed through that whole film, horrible acting, even by the usually always great Meryl, but Julia, was just embarrassingly bad. Believe me, Unbroken is a gift of a film if you go back and watch those turkeys.

      • You need to be blaming the Coen Brothers, but, others have said the film was wonderful. Makes me wonder if you’re really being truthful about seeing it, most negative comments are usually from trolls.

      • J J K says:

        Argo is Citizen Kane compare to the absolute mess Unbroken is. One of the worst most laughable screenplays, with dialogue as heavy as Christ’s cross… just, such an awful movie. I never in life hated a movie as much, I literally felt myself age in the seat.

    • Sorry, maybe Louie should have had some wild parties and lots of women to make you happy. Too bad the TRUE story, not embellished for the screen, which is unheard of, doesn’t meet your criteria of “fun” movies.

  22. Gary says:

    The film Unbroken would be difficult for any actor to duplicate the valorous life of Louis Zamperini. Jack O’Connell does a gritty & glorious job of taking the audience through the personal story of Zamperini’s Olympic exploits; POW experience & ultimate survival during WW II.

    It is the task of Director Angelina Jolie to guide us on the path of the main protagonist’s heroic victory over his brutal antagonist, Japanese camp Sargent Watanabe. And she does a very splendid job indeed.

    We must not forget that the war action filming, of B-24 bombers attacking the Japan held Pacific islands, is secondary to two America fliers ditching their plane & floating on a life raft for 2&1/2 months in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean. It is their winning survival at the end which makes this film a must see for us – honoring the Greatest Generation who saved this country from 1941 to 1945!

    We salute & thank the producers, actors & film makers for the making the book, Unbroken into a stout-hearted film for movie goers. It will be a triumphant success.

  23. TheBigBangOf20thCenturyPopCulture says:

    This looks like a valiant effort to tell the tale of a rare war survivor. But it remains to be seen whether it will earn industry buzz by not conforming to usual unsung underdog depictions. The mere idea that Hollywood would not even fund this film is a hint that it may also snub it come awards time. In short, this movie will go unnoticed because it was about an Italian-American from an ethnic minority group that Hollywood prefers to marginalize or stereotype in the movies. Sad but true.

  24. Moviegoer says:

    You obviously are a critic, not a moviegoer. This moviegoer was totally and completely enthralled and near tears throughout the movie. It’s a shame there are so many critics in this too critical world. I hope this wonderful movie touches the hearts of moviegoers everywhere who get to experience too few joys like Unbroken. Jolie’s vision came to life for us, not you.

  25. Excellent! :) Can’t wait to see this movie. I believe that Jack O’Connell has a great potential. We will be hearing good things about the guy in the next few years.
    Fingers crossed for Roger Deakins!

  26. Micha says:

    “….several omissions in “Unbroken” are especially telling: We’re denied any real sense of the young Louie’s insatiable appetite for mischief; nor do we see him and his comrades conversing in secret code, or paying hilariously flatulent tribute to Japan’s Emperor Hirohito, or conceiving a desperate plot to murder Watanabe — or, barring that, inducing a crippling bout of diarrhea that puts the miserable sergeant out of commission for more than a week.”
    So you’re not satisfied with the movie because Angelina left out his farting and diarrhea from the movie? What are you smoking?

  27. The film ends when Louie returns home. Angie said there was enough left to make another movie, about his alcoholism and then meeting Billy Graham, just tons of material, but there had to be a stopping point for the film version. Why don’t you “S. Norton” get the rights and make the film the way YOU think it should be made, if you feel that strongly about it.

    • David M. says:

      That’s a ridiculous comment. His job is to critique the film. According to your logic, he shouldn’t be able to give his opinion about the movie unless he attempts to make it himself?

    • stannorton says:

      I thought this was a discussion, not an attack or argument. And the rights have already been secured.

  28. S Norton says:

    It is unfortunate that this film, according to the review, minimizes Louis’ conversion story on his return after the war. It is the very essence and the climax of the book. Where is Capra when you need him?

  29. B25JCrew says:

    If you are going to write a credible review, do your homework and get your terminology correct. What does it mean to “shoot down Zero planes”? Do you mean that no airplanes were shot down? They are not called “Zero planes,” but rather “Mitsubishi Zeros” or “Japanese Zeros.” Also, Louis was not a U.S. Air Force bombardier. The USAF did not exist until 18 November 1947. He was a bombardier in the Army Air Corps.

    • Innis Mor says:

      Oxymoron … asking a movie critic to do homework.

      I know; these ‘stodgy’ critics aren’t big on getting many of the facts straight. The guy over at the Guardian was on the same anti-Jolie bent. He even called the B24’s “B52’s” …. lol !!

      Book writer (Hillenbrand) and Filmaker (Jolie) put tremendous effort and detail into getting the story right, and authentic, and then self-adoltoring critics decide to find fault with accurate portrayal. “Makes it stodgy.” (Of course, the guy at The Guardian loved The King’s Speech”” — not stodgy at all, but British!!! lol

      POW’s from Japanese POW camps that have seen Unbroken describe the POW scenes as being very realistic to their experience, as opposed to those portrayed in the beloved The Bridge on the River Kwai.

      But, ha, the critics don’t care about the factual portrayal in a biopic … just give them fantasy! Off to The Hobbit they go!! Oohhhh, yum!!! Hobbitses!!

      Jeepers.

      • Some of the critics are just off the wall crazy. Many had their Unbroken review written months ago, they’ve couldn’t wait to get at Angie. How dare she be beautiful, kind, smart, a successful actress and producer, plus be a great Mother and wife to Brad Pitt. They have a need to tear her down, if a man had directed this film, he’d be hailed the greatest thing since sliced bread.

  30. shell says:

    never been impressed with Jolie as an actress or a director……redundant and boring!!!

  31. I’m sure Unbroken more than meets any fan of he book, Unbroken. Variety has been sharpening it’s claws for months on Angelina Jolie’s film, trying to nit pit every single aspect. Did they do that with Birdman, the most boring 900 hours (feels like) of nothingness ever put on celluloid, I think not. Unbroken will be a huge hit, Angie is held to a higher standard by critics that no one on this earth could achieve. Face it, Angie’s beauty works against her, men think gorgeous women should be stupid, and Angie is not what they perceive a gorgeous woman to be.

  32. frank markus says:

    We can wait to see Angelina Jolie “Unbroken” My friend told me it’s a brilliant movie !! We love Angelina Jolie.

  33. blancaster60 says:

    If you have read the book on which this movie is based – as I have and many thousands more – you will probably want to see the film. If for no other reason, I will go see it because of the tremendous respect I have for Louis Zamperini. And based on what I have read here and elsewhere, the movie does honor him. Perhaps it won’t live up to the greatness of the book. Many good films adapted from highly successful books have fallen short of that mark. But every once in a while I like to watch a movie that’s more about the triumph of the human spirit and less about portraying the world as one big sh**hole filled with people who have few if any redeeming qualities. Louis was one of the good guys and I am thankful that Jolie has made an effort bring his story to life.

  34. Ted says:

    She has fallen in the same category as kitrashians. She gets 1 yawn.

    • Teri says:

      They (Brad & Angie) together or as individuals are of a select few celebrities who get it right. They manage to keep thier life private and normal, relativily speaking, contribute their time and money to several national and international causes and clearly don’t feel the need to feed the papparazzi with daily outings, tweets, etc. They are not over-exposed and they continue to be, arguably, 2 of the most respected and celebrated celebrities, worldwide. For you to compare them to the Kardashians says more about you than them… Also, if one is objective and fair, the fact that she created a good if not perfect movie on just her second directorial project, says she shows great promise.

    • You don’t see Angie and Brad for months at a time, unless they are promoting a film, part of their job. Still haven’t figured out what the Katrashians jobs really are, besides being famewh@res, and being total wastes of oxygen.

  35. Dee says:

    I wonder how her original film before Universal cut it so it would be more commercial, deeming the original to ‘art house’, differed? I would love to read a comparative review ot the two cuts.

    • lindaj52 says:

      I saw an interview Angie did just last night, she said SHE oversaw the movie from beginning to the very last frame. I think that’s her way of answering the people that think Universal had final cut.

  36. More soggy Pablum from Jolie. No, thanks.

  37. Gabriel Kostner says:

    I wonder if this movie, which is essentially Jolie’s “Paean To The White Man,” represents some sideways apology to her uber-conservative father and his presence as a constant caustic conservative on Fox News?

    I will not hold my breath waiting for Fox to cover their maudlin family reunion.

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