“Unbroken,” directed by star actress Angelina Jolie, is a film that has had some serious awards consideration, and I think it’s mostly deserving of something.
While it has much more in common with “The Shawshank Redemption” than “Chariots of Fire,” Jolie proves that she can be a filmmaker of real skill and authenticity.
The film tells the true story of Louis Zamperini, a former Olympic athlete who goes off to fight in World War II. When his plane is shot down, Zamperini (Jack O’Connell) and two other soldiers fight to stay alive at sea for 47 days and literally are swimming with sharks.
Along the way, they are captured by the Japanese and become POWs under the brutal and cruel dictatorship of a commander called The Bird (Takamasa Ishihara). He does everything in his power to break Zamperini’s body and spirit.
Zamperini becomes the victim of too many attacks by The Bird in two different internment camps. However, the more The Bird pushes Zamperini, the greater his resolve becomes. His defiant act at a coal-mining operation involving lifting a giant piece of wood over his head screams underdog.
This is a film that at once makes us root for Zamperini and uses shameless manipulation to its advantage. However, given its source material, Jolie is a competent filmmaker who knows how to do this story justice. Granted, some scenes of vicious brutality do push the PG-13 rating right up to the razor’s edge, but I think it’s justified in order to show the truth.
“Unbroken” may walk the line of mixed reviews, but as for me, I thought this was one of 2014’s most well-made, well-acted and technically impressive films.
(Rated PG-13 for war violence including intense sequences of brutality, and for brief language.)
Hall is a syndicated columnist in South Georgia.