It was impossible to avoid spoilers in this review - my apologies. “Unbroken” is a powerful depiction of life in the Japanese Prisoner of War camps during WWII. I found it to be an even more powerful statement about bullying, but the main themes of this film are perseverance and forgiveness. Louis Zamperini’s story is one that has inspired many, from his journey to the Olympics to his 47-day ocean survival to his suffering in three P.O.W. camps, and this film will allow his story to inspire millions more. I approached the film with skepticism since it was directed by Angelina Jolie, but I was pleasantly surprised by many of her directorial choices and her ability to make the story flow from chapter to chapter. The flashbacks properly create an emotional connection with Zamperini, the violence is tasteful, and “the lifting scene” will become one of those iconic Hollywood moments. A lot of the movie is uninventive and clichéd, particularly the scenes on the plane and the scenes on the raft, but the P.O.W. scenes are what set this movie apart. It is probably the best portrayal that I have seen, particularly when “The Bird” is introduced. The strong performance by Miyavi makes the character a formidable villain, and Jack O’Connell brings a lot of heart to his interpretation of Zamperini. His progressively diminishing physical state provides a visual representation of his mental well-being throughout the movie. The acting keeps us in the moment for the entire 137-minute runtime and Jolie’s pacing drives the intensity from start to finish. I have mixed feelings on Louis Zamperini’s request to leave his conversion to Christianity out of the film. I understand that the film was able to reach a wider audience and avoid religious blacklisting by universalizing the faith that helped Louis to forgive his captors. I also understand that people who are searching for answers can easily find out what transformed his life if they are inspired by his story. Still, his Christianity defined the latter two-thirds of his life and it saddens me to see it left out for fear of automatic dismissal by the people who need to hear his story. You have to question whether people would have been turned away if it was any other religion; in fact, any other belief system probably would’ve been celebrated. Regardless, the story of Louis Zamperini’s survival and forgiveness is an inspiration and I’d highly recommend experiencing it for yourself.
[Pictured; The chemistry between these two is what develops the heart of O'Connell's character]