Unbroken should be required viewing for anyone who thinks torture is justified | Film Review | Indy Week
Pin It

Unbroken should be required viewing for anyone who thinks torture is justified 

Director Angelina Jolie's Unbroken is an amazing true story of athletics, war and human perseverance.

Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Director Angelina Jolie's Unbroken is an amazing true story of athletics, war and human perseverance.

UNBROKEN, director Angelina Jolie's adaptation of Laura Hillenbrand's bestselling nonfiction chronicle, tells the true story of Olympic athlete Louie Zamperini, who endured an incredible series of traumas during World War II. After surviving for 47 days adrift on a raft in the Pacific, Zamperini suffered for two-and-a-half years in a brutal Japanese POW camp overseen by a sadistic warden.

Jolie begins with an astoundingly good sequence in which bombardier Zamperini and his crew—flying a jalopy B-24—barely survive an aerial shootout with Japanese fighter planes. The camera work and sound design put you right inside the lethal metal rattletrap and the surreal madness of war. It's a theme the film returns to over and over.

British actor Jack O'Connell gives an impressive performance as Zamperini. He undergoes some startling physical changes, from a buffed-out runner in the 1936 Olympics to an emaciated prisoner of war. In the lost-at-sea passages, Zamperini continually finds new depths in his resolve to survive. Tackling that shark, for instance. And in the POW camps, he discovers that he's barely scratched the surface.

The second half ofUnbrokenis very hard to stomach. It should be required viewing for anyone who thinks that torture, in any circumstance, is justifiable. Zamperini's tormentor, Sergeant Watanabe—played by Japanese musician Miyavi—is a terrifying psychotic, the madness of war personified.

Unbroken is technically proficient in nearly every way. Jolie recruited an A-list crew; the Coen brothers co-wrote the script. But despite the undeniably inspiring story, there's a curious lack of clarity about what drove this remarkable man to survive.

In a flashback sequence of Zamperini leaving home, the film delivers what seems to be its thesis statement. With a conspicuous flourish, his brother intones the parting words: "A moment of pain is worth a lifetime of glory.'' It's a shapeless sentiment, couched in swelling string music; a corny moment in the center of an otherwise steely-eyed film.

This thematic blurriness at the core of Unbroken keeps it from soaring, but it's still a hell of a story, well-told. And this is nice: Apparently, Jolie was able to show a rough cut to Zamperini before his death, in July, at age 97.

This article appeared in print with the headline "(Escape) Home for the holidays."

Film Details

Unbroken
Rated PG-13 · 137 min. · 2014
Official Site: www.unbrokenfilm.com
Director: Angelina Jolie
Writer: Laura Hillenbrand, Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, Richard LaGravenese and William Nicholson
Producer: Angelina Jolie, Clayton Townsend, Matthew Baer and Erwin Stoff
Cast: Jack O'Connell, Domhnall Gleeson, Miyavi, Garrett Hedlund and Finn Wittrock

Trailer


Now Playing

Unbroken is not showing in any theaters in the area.

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Film Review



Twitter Activity

Comments

My wife is super hyped up over this movie. We're going to see it saturday. Having married a Korean american, …

by Timothy Oswald on On the Upside, Crazy Rich Asians Is a Genuine Cultural Milestone. On the Downside, It's ... Not That Good? (Film Review)

I love this film, and we just did a podcast about it! We explore age-related cognitive impairment, alcoholism, rural midwestern …

by Scott Wickman on Nebraska is maddeningly dead-on (Film Review)

Most Read

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…

Most Recent Comments

My wife is super hyped up over this movie. We're going to see it saturday. Having married a Korean american, …

by Timothy Oswald on On the Upside, Crazy Rich Asians Is a Genuine Cultural Milestone. On the Downside, It's ... Not That Good? (Film Review)

I love this film, and we just did a podcast about it! We explore age-related cognitive impairment, alcoholism, rural midwestern …

by Scott Wickman on Nebraska is maddeningly dead-on (Film Review)

Good movie. That showed a career service member can be sold out by BS politicians

by Darin Thigpen Sr on Only military guys can understand (Film Review)

It is a very good film.I really liked it.The film is visual treat to the audience.Suraj Sharma nailed the role …

by Fermin Johnson on Life of Pi is a touching fable (Film Review)

Much as I hate to be that guy, I must nonetheless point out a minor error in your review. The …

by Just Another Malcontent on Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs Is an Alternately Respectful and Baffling Parable About Japan (Film Review)

© 2018 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation