The incredible true story of Olympian runner, plane crash and Japanese prison camp survivor Louis Zamperini is vividly retold by director Angelina Jolie, starring the massive young British talent and star in the making Jack O'Connell. Starting in World War 2, as Zamperini is faced with his first hairy experience dropping out of the sky in a damaged plane, the screenplay worked on by the Coen brothers then flashes back to Zamperini's troubled childhood in America as the bullied son of Italian immigrants. After his brother encourages him to take up running, Zamperini soon starts to excel at the sport, leaving his criminal behaviour behind. His running takes him all the way to the Berlin Olympics but it is his war stories that really show the unbreakable spirit of this remarkable survivor.
Surviving a second plane crash but this time being lost at sea for 47 days with two other men, Zamperini floats through starvation and shark infested waters until he is eventually picked up by the Japanese and put into prison under the sadistic guard known as The Bird. Unbroken is undoubtedly a hell of a story but somehow it never manages to fulfil its emotive potential. Jack O’Connell is outstanding in the lead but special mention should go to Domhnall Gleeson for offering fine support and a physical transformation that will make you wonder to what extremes the actor went to in order to achieve his starved appearance.
Ultimately, Unbroken dwells a little too much on the torture and sadism of The Bird, becoming a little repetitive and drawn out in its prison set scenes, where instead more could have been done to build Zamperini’s character in his earlier, formative years. Far from a broken mess, Unbroken just needed a little fixing to do its amazing story the justice it deserved.
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