HOLLYWOOD—Oscar-winner Angelina Jolie proved her ability behind the camera with her first film “In the Land of Blood and Honey.” The actress soars to new heights with her latest entry “Unbroken,” which chronicles the life of USA Olympian Louis Zamperini, portrayed by British actor Jack O’Connell.
The biggest lesson the film showcases to the audience is the ability to overcome unbelievable odds. Zamperini endured surviving at sea for more than 47 days and later endured the brutality of multiple prisoner of war camps. While the film is rated PG-13, Jolie proves as a director, no fear in conveying the harshness of war; we get an idea of the physical and mental torture that Zamperini endured at the hands of his torturers.
The film does play with the notion of telling Zamperini’s tale through flashbacks from WWII and his early childhood. It’s not completely told in that manner, but the flashbacks present a slice of our protagonist, which explains some of his behavior and his inability to overcome against all odds.
The script is solid thanks to assistance from Oscar-winners Joel and Ethan Coen, but still has a few flaws throughout. For a picture that is solely on telling the story of Zamperini, the audience doesn’t get a full-fledged narrative on him.
We get a portrait of his life primarily during his time from WWII to his release. I would argue two of the most fleshed out characters in the entire flick is Zamperini and his tormentor Mutsuhiro “The Bird” Watanabe portrayed by Miyavi.
“Unbroken” is a tale of good versus evil. A man doing all in his power to survive, while physically, mentally and spiritually being attacked by an enemy desperate to break his spirit. It has a visceral spirit about it that leaves the spectator in awe.
This character is so polarizing, so determined, with no regrets. You root for him, and I mean you root for him hard. The emotional connection that Jolie manifests between the viewer and the film is nothing short of spectacular in my eyes.
It might be that one film of 2014 that resonates as a movie; it makes you feel good inside, but also highlights once again the casualties of war. It’s not as brutal as “Saving Private Ryan” or “American Sniper,” but “Unbroken” does a stellar job of making the audience care about its protagonist. While the supporting players are almost, non-existent in my opinion, they help to serve the purpose of the narrative which is to propel the story.
Many of us know about Louis Zamperini because of his glory days in the Olympics, not many know the tale of survival he endured post that glorious moment. Jolie is proving while she might be an A-list actress, she is developing some sharp skills behind the camera that could make her a formidable force in Hollywood, as “Unbroken” will surprise you.