By Nico Beland
Movie Review: C+ (2 ½ stars)
Angelina Jolie (Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Salt, Maleficent) makes her second feature film as a director, the first being 2011’s In the Land of Blood and Honey. This time she’s taking her directing skills to World War II with Unbroken, based on the true story of war prisoner and Olympian runner, Louie Zamperini (Jack O’ Connell-Eden Lake, Harry Brown, 300: Rise of an Empire).
For a second film as a director, Angelina definitely put a decent amount of effort into the movie; unfortunately there are a lot of moments that feel like rehashed scenes from films like Saving Private Ryan, Full Metal Jacket, and Chariots of Fire; not to mention the film has a few scenes that drag on longer than they should, and some of the emotional dialogue is rather cliché and often predictable.
The film follows Louie and two other crewmen surviving in a raft at sea for 47 days after a plane crash in World War II. The three war heroes get caught by the Japanese Navy and sent to a Prisoners of War camp where they are tortured and forced to work for the Japanese or be executed.
Louie and his airmen, Phil (Domhnall Gleeson-Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, True Grit, Calvary) and Mac (Finn Wittrock-The Normal Heart, Winter’s Tale) must fight their way out of the prison camp, win the war, and make it home so Louie can pursue his dream of becoming a runner in the Olympics.
Overall, Unbroken is a passable Angelina Jolie directed film, it has a gritty war atmosphere and some of the emotional drama can be powerful at times. But compared to other war films like Saving Private Ryan, Inglourious Basterds, or Full Metal Jacket, there’s not enough war action or original moments to make it count as a cinematic war classic.
With that said, the acting for the most part is pretty solid, Jack O’ Connell does well as Louie and seeing him go through the cruel elements of war; you want to see him fight his way out. However if there’s one performance throughout the entire film that was worth watching was Japanese actor, Miyavi in his English film debut as the brutal Japanese camp guard nicknamed, The Bird, he’s really hamming it out and you can tell he’s having fun with the performance.
It’s nice there were enough elements in the film that I enjoyed, even if the movie isn’t entirely good. Jolie’s directing is solid, the acting is great, and there are enough intense war scenes to keep you on the edge of your seat. But it’s a shame the dialogue and emotional drama is cliché and not very original, if more effort was put into the writing to balance out the war action and acting I’m sure the film would have held up better.
I’m just nitpicking here, if you’re all about war themed movies, you’ll probably like the movie, but if you want a really smart and gripping war epic, I’d say you should see Fury again, or just pop Saving Private Ryan or Inglourious Basterds into your DVD player instead.