Cast: Jack O’Connell, Domhnall Gleeson, Takamaasa Ishihara, Alex Russell, Finn Wittrock, Jai Courtney
Direction: Angelina Jolie
Duration: 2 hours 19 minutes
Story: This is the true story of Olympic athlete Louis Zamperini who was a bombardier in a USAAF B24 in WW II. When his bomber crashed in the Pacific Ocean during a rescue op, he and two crewmembers weathered 47 days in a life raft. Zamperini also survived two Japanese POW camps till the end of the war.
Review: Divided into three distinct phases, Unbroken begins with Louis Zamperini’s (O’Connell) upbringing and early years, along with his participation in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. The second, during the thick of WW II and the manner in which he and two crewmembers spent those arduous days in the shark-infested Pacific after the crash. And lastly, the superhuman force of will that helps him to survive the brutality of the sadistic Japanese labour camp commander Mutsuhiro ‘The Bird’ Watanabe (Ishihara).
We see in flashback mode how Zamperini searches for a sense of identity. Directionless, he spends his days smoking cigarettes and drinking liquor concealed in milk bottles. Local bullies call him a ‘wop’ and a ‘dago’. But his elder brother Pete (Russell) sees that what Louis can do, is run. ‘If you can take it, you can make it”, Pete tells Louis.
Louis and his friends face almost every kind of hardship – from the elements to starvation to beatings to backbreaking physical labour and sometimes, all of it at the same time. The values his brother taught him prove crucial to how he emerges battered and frayed, but unbroken.
In this moving tale of trial and ultimate redemption, Jolie dutifully paints a harrowing picture of how Zamperini stoically bears it all. But the redemption aspect of the tale is just breezed through. If only we could see how Zamperini pieced together his life after the war. That aside, apart from an engaging screenplay (Coen Brothers), cinematographer Roger Deakins’s frames are vivid and powerful and Alexandre Desplat’s score augments at optimal moments but thankfully, never overwhelms. O’Connell and Ishihara bring a stunning sense of realism to their roles, which is a great reason why you’ll want to watch this movie.