(SPOILER WARNING!!! This article does contain spoilers, if you haven’t seen the movie, just see the first paragraph to be informed without spoilers!!!)
Unbroken is a good war/survival movie with good acting that shows patriotism, but the movie starts to drag after the third part of the movie, it does have its moments, but that’s it. Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars.
I have to say that any real war epic story will get people on the seats at the movie theater. it is a great topic that people want to see, and will give it a try, even if the movie is straight up horrible. If it is a true story, people will watch it. I din’t know if it is the trailer that brings the epicness, or people want to show true patriotism by supporting it. Regardless, it sells tickets. When i heard that Angelina Jolie is directing this true World War II survival story written by the Cohen Brothers, I was in. I didn’t know much about the US Soldier/Olympic Athlete Louie Zamperini, so I let this movie tell me. I thought just the Cohen Brothers themselves writing would give them some Oscar nods, and seeing Jolie in a director role intrigued me to see what she got. It was a good movie, but that is all I can give. I will start with what I like, to the so so, to what i didn’t like.
What I liked, the acting was strong in this movie. Jack O’Connell playing Louie Zamperini really captured his emotion of what he really been through. I believe O’Connell lost tremendous amount of weight for this role, and I have to give him credit for that. The other actor I really liked in this movie is the Japanese Guard of the prisoners of war (POW) camp, Mutsuhiro “The Bird” Watanabe played by Miyavi. Miyavi was just a Japanese rock star before this, and to bring him in playing a pivotal role in the movie was a genius choice by Director Angelina Jolie and company. Seeing Miyavi commanding a presence in his scenes and using intimidation and violence to the prisoners was very captivating. I like how Watanabe uses a bamboo stick to really put a hurting, and making the prisoners do what he wants for good reason or not was really good. I like how he comes toe to toe and blow for blow with Zamperini. Watanabe knew Zamperini was an Olympic athlete and knew he was a strong character, but wanted to break Zamperini so bad so he can be the only strong person in the camp. As the movie title shows Zamperini didn’t and remained strong no matter what. I like the flashbacks developing Zamperini’s character as a young boy who was bullied for being son of Italian immigrants, and believing he was a nobody. While his own brother, Pete Zamperini played by Alex Russell, saw true potential as a long distance runner, and trained him to be the best. Not only was Zamperini the best, he competed in the 1936 Summer Olympic in Berlin, Germany, and had a strong showing for a young guy running the 5,000 meter race. He then had hopes to compete in the next Olympics in Tokyo, Japan and winning it all. However, World War II broke out, and enlisted to fight for his country. During his survival story, I believe the most thrilling part was Zamperini and two other soldiers were on a raft in the middle of the Pacific Ocean after their plane crashed. I can only imagine being on there for two months with barely any food and water, enduring a storm with strong wave chops, and worse of all, sharks. Sharks do give me the creeps (blame it on the Jaws movie), but seeing these guys having to deal with sharks circulating around them made me tense. That one jump moment where a shark almost attacks one of the soldiers was enough for me to realize how brave and strong these guys are. During that whole ordeal on the raft, I like how the chemistry developed between the soldiers and developing a strong bond. That shows true brotherhood. Two moments that were great was seeing Watanabe trying to break Zamperini. One is where Zamperini is recruited by radio hosts of Tokyo. They had him talk live and deliver a message for his family to tell them he is alive (another strong moment in itself). He was fed and treated well, but he had to go on radio again and read a script they wrote denouncing his country. He was given the ultimatum to do that or go back to the POW camp. In true patriotism, he went back to the camp. I don’t know how i would’ve done if I was in his shoes, but man that was a bold decision by Zamperini. The other moment is when Watanabe made him hold up a big block of wood over his head, and if he drops it, he will be shot. Instead of Zamperini dropping it, he held onto it for a long time, and even lifted up higher to show how strong he is frustrating Watanabe and brutally beating him up. Zamperini showed that he is strong and no matter what they put at him, he will not be broken. It all sets up for Zamperini being rescued when the war was over, and loved seeing him come back home kissing American soil and reuniting with his family. I give credit for the real Zamperini and what he endured, he is a better man than me. Director Jolie really did paint a good picture of how things went down for Zamperini, and I give her credit in her art of directing a movie.
The so so, one moment which should’ve been a great moment but was just ok, was the moment Zamperini returned to the POW camp after refusing to do what the Tokyo radio hosts wanted him to do. Watanabe was surprised that he actually came back, and decided as punishment for disrespect to his country, to have every prisoner of the camp punch him in the face. It was cool to see Zamperini taking the punches and encouraging the other prisoners to punch him hard. The only thing I was disappointed in is that the punches didn’t feel all that powerful in the movie. It didn’t pack a big emotion with each punch. I didn’t hear the oomph that comes with a punch like in other movies. If it did, that scene would’ve been powerful in itself. I was told that this movie would bring a big Christian spiritual aspect, and for some people it is a Christian movie. If it was, it definitely failed in that attempt. It did show bits and pieces of Zamperini being raised as a Catholic, and not caring about a faith in God as he grows up and becomes a soldier. They also showed him giving an ultimatum prayer to God when he was on the raft that if God has him come out alive, that he will give his life to him. Other than that, that was it for the spiritual sub story (or lack there of). It would be nice to see how Zamperini really converted to Christianity, and live a life with a Christian faith. If you are looking for a good Christian story, this is not your movie. For me, I didn’t approach it that way and approached it as a war/survival movie which didn’t get me too disappointed in this movie.
What I didn’t like, the story was weak. Al there is Zamperini’s flashback, his life as a US soldier, the crash, being on the raft in the middle of the ocean, being a prisoner of war at a POW camp, and being rescued. Don’t get me wrong, the story was executed well, but for a story written by the Cohen Brothers, it was very sub par for their standards. You know what’s going to happen if you know the story or even seeing the trailer. There was no big part that will get you emotionally. Maybe the Cohen Brothers should stick in creating their own stories, instead of adapting one.
Overall, with the weak story line, it still had it’s good moments to really appreciate what the soldiers have to endure in their life of fighting and surviving in a war. Zamperini can be considered a true war hero, and he definitely has my respect. Unfortunately he died before this movie premiered, so may he rest in peace. A well deserved rest!!! (Final Rating 4 out of 5 Stars.
(Sidenote: Step up: All In- Yes i roll my eyes when a new Step Up movie comes out. It is always the same thing in these movies. It involves a weak story with horrible acting, but great dance moves and choreography. I always give these movies the benefit of the doubt mainly because they do bring it with their dancing. Unfortunately for this movie, it continues with a weak and practically horrible story line and weak acting, but as for the dancing, it didn’t bring anything new or innovative. it was the same old, same old. I hope they will put a stop to these movies, cuz in my opinion, it is getting kind of old. If the TV show America’s Best Dance crew can get cancelled, these movies can as well. Rating: 2.5 out of 5 Stars.)