Unbroken: The Unbelievable True Story (2014)
A Review by: Jeff Turner
Dir: Angelina Jolie
Written by: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, William Nicholson, Richard LaGravense.
Produced by: 3 Arts Entertainment, Jolie Pas, Legendary Pictures.
Starring: Jack O'Connell, Garrett Hedlund, Miyavi, Domhnall Gleeson, Jai Courtney, Alex Russell.
How does one talk about a movie that is not very good despite it involving a respectable figure? That is the question posed to me now as I look at Angelina Jolie’s biopic of Louie Zamperini, UNBROKEN. It isn’t very good, it fails to develop this character, it avoids any actual philosophy, and the last hour falls to monotony. Instead of being one good movie, its two-three bad ones.
Louie Zamperini (Jack O'Connell) gets marooned in World War II on a search and rescue mission with two other soldiers (one of whom is Domhnall Gleeson, from HARRY POTTER). For the next 45 minutes UNBROKEN is a survival film, following Zamperini and his exploits on the boat. This could have been good but it is not given enough time to develop (basically describes this entire movie).
Louie is then taken prisoner by the Japanese. One of the people running the prison, “The Bird” (Miyavi, a singer in Japan. He probably shouldn’t quit his day job.) The film is reminiscent of THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI at this point (a much better movie). Interestingly enough, UNBROKEN has been in development since the 50’s. This could have been good, but it isn’t given enough time to develop. I did not know a single character’s name beyond the main character’s and “The Bird’s.” The only reason I even knew them is because they were on screen for so long. Garrett Hedlund shows up, and he’s ok, but the movie never gives him enough time to establish something.
I want to like Angelina Jolie as a director, and she organizes the scenes fine, with good looking cinematography by veteran Roger Deakins, but the script (written by Joel and Ethan Coen for some reason) is absolutely lazy. We never learn anything about this guy apart from the same beat the movie parrots for its 137 minute length. He faced a trial and he persevered, he faced a trial and he persevered, he faced a trial and he persevered. You lose interest around the 20th time Jolie shows him persevering. What offends me is that he does have a philosophy, but instead of you know, it being in the movie, its explained with title cards at the end. An allegedly A-list celebrity should not be this lazy.
At the risk of repeating myself, UNBROKEN sucks. if you want to learn about Louie Zamperini, read the Laura Hillenbrand book. Hopefully Jolie will pick a better script next time, and she’ll do a better job with pacing. This is an unfortunate stinker about a guy who is worth making a movie about. Interestingly at the end, during those title cards, it talks about how Zamperini forgave his captors and went around Japan as a motivational speaker. Should have made that movie, Angie.
Suggestion: Skip it