“Unbroken” fails to live up to its potential

We all love Angelina Jolie. She’s a good actress, a humble person, a fighter, and an activist. So, when Unbroken hit theatres, I was excited to see what Jolie had done with the remarkable true story of Louis “Louie” Zamperini. 

Zamperini (Jack O’Connell) was an Olympic athlete back in the late 1930s before he enlisted in the United States army in 1941, earning the title of second lieutenant. During a search and rescue mission, his plane was gunned down and crashed into the sea, killing 11 of the 14 men on board. Zamperini survived along with two of his crewmates, pilot Russell Allen “Phil” Phillips (Domhnall Gleeson) and Francis “Mac” McNamara (Finn Wittrock), and spent 47 days on a raft in the middle of the ocean. The three were then found by the Japanese Navy only to be sent to several prisoner-of-war camps until the end of the war, when they were released. Unbroken follows Zamperini’s story.

Jack O’Connell delivers a good enough performance as Zamperini, but the entire time, it felt like there was a gap to bridge between him and the audience — or myself, really. His sense of persistence is admirable and everything, but he lacked the relatability to make me really root for him. Don’t get me wrong, the guy went through hell and everything, but there was something about him that made him feel unreachable, like there wasn’t much depth to his character. Save for some instances where O’Connell truly shined, the acting was just alright. The character felt too glorified and ultimately just fell flat. I get that this is his story, but there were countless others with him. The only thing that set him apart was the fact that he was an athlete, but the thing is, there was also a chef there, and an opera singer (if we’re to follow the script). The fact that he was an Olympian felt like it was just shoved in there, and made Unbroken unnecessarily long.

The remainder of the cast — including Japanese superstar Miyavi (Google him after seeing this movie and proceed to shit thyself) and actor Garrett Hedlund — did a good job as well. The acting in this movie isn’t bad, it’s just not as great as the story gave the roles the potential to be.

The movie isn’t that well made either. The three parts of the story — the beginning, the 47 days, and the two years in the camps — feel really disjointed. I felt like I was watching three different stories about three different people. Not only that, some parts of it felt like they were just added in as fillers. There’s a whole hour of torture with almost nothing in between. No wonder this touched a nerve in Japan. This being a true story, I can’t exactly know this for sure, but the Japanese are portrayed as ruthless beasts.

The script was lackluster. It wasn’t bad, but it lacked the heart that could’ve carried the movie through, creating a sense of intimacy between Zamperini and the viewers. Even the score wasn’t engaging enough.

Another off-putting aspect is how cliche it was. I understand that this is a true story, but some liberties were taken (like them actually sailing to land with the raft as opposed to being found. According to the movie, they just stayed there for 47 days. Genius.), so I’m assuming others could have been taken too. It’s an amazing and inspiring story about the persistence of the human spirit, but what I saw barely affected me. Am I a heartless bitch? Perhaps. But in my mind this could have been a lot better.

I won’t venture into how much this movie makes America look like the big forgiving hero because that wouldn’t be fruitful at this point. It’s a true story, and the fact that Zamperini forgives his captors in the end is truly admirable, but the way that was projected was a bit distasteful if you ask me.

Finally, the title. “Unbroken.” Really? I mean the trailer gives away the entire movie as it is, but you could’ve changed the title, regardless of it being an adaptation. Think of what “Unbroken” might mean with respect to the movie. I assure you, 90% of you are right. And that’s the entire movie. 

Overall, I wouldn’t go as far as to say that Unbroken sucked, and it is nice to know Louis Zamperini’s story, but it ultimately falls flat. It wasn’t bad, but every aspect of it could’ve been better. Not one of Jolie’s better efforts.

RATING: 52/100

Image Sources: imgarcade.com, relevantmagazine.com, voanews.com, slate.com

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