Monday, December 29, 2014

[Review] Unbroken

Here's the bullet point version of Louis Zamperini: He went from Olympic track star--to the military during WWII, where he experienced crash which left him stranded on a raft at sea for nearly two months. Then he got captured by the Japanese army only to get sent to a prison camp where he was abused and tortured daily until the war ended. Those are quite the bullet points, right?

Joel and Ethan Coen helped adapt Zamperini's biography, and director and producer Angelina Jolie brings the amazing story to the big screen. Jack O'Connell (a British actor, because of course he is), coming off an impressive performance in Starred Up, stars as Zamperini and does a swell job. Unbroken is part sports movie, part war story, part stranded/survival/endurance tale, as well as an embodying account of the human spirit and American triumph. So, you'd think this film has all the makings of a tense sweat-fest, a potential tearjerker, and an Oscar shoe-in--which makes it all the more surprising that it ends up coming up a bit flat.

Don't get me wrong, Unbroken is a decently serviceable film that has its stirring moments, along with a soaring musical score, but it's hard not to expect more out of it. The beginning feels like a film running through the motions, almost like a Forrest Gump-esque highlight reel but without the charm. And once the danger and crisis sets in, it lacks that hard-hitting grit that keeps your attention. The pacing is on the slower side, and the dialogue is underwhelming and mostly unmemorable. It's an example of when the riveting 2-minute trailer packs more power than the entire feature-length film.

There's obviously no denying the astonishment and inspiration that comes from Zamperini's real-life story, but maybe that's it--it's such a feat that the movie just isn't able to fully do it justice. However, there's still enough here to recommend.


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