Angelina Jolie adapts this Laura Hillenbrand nonfiction novel about the early life of Louis Zamperini (well-played by Jack O’Connell). As a child, he got into plenty of trouble by sneaking out of his parents’ house and drinking liquor. He trained to become a runner at the 1936 Berlin Olympics as a way to get rid of his past troubles. Zamperini set a record for the fastest run by a U.S. athlete. When the 1940 Olympics in Tokyo got cancelled due to World War II, he became an airline pilot for the Air Force. Zamperini, along with a few of his fellow pilots, became the sole survivors of a plane crash that leaves them stranded in the middle of the Pacific Ocean in a raft for 47 days. He gets captured by a Japanese Navy Ship, and is treated very poorly while becoming their POW. While God is watching over him, he begins to have hope to go back home alive. On July 2nd of last year, Louis Zamperini passed away at age 97 from pneumonia.
There are moments of greatness in Unbroken. In one particular scene, Zamperini is forced to work at a coal mine. Mutsuhiro “The Bird” Watanabe (Takamasa Ishihara) hands him a wooden plank so he could lift it over his head. If not, Zamperini will get shot. With all of his strength, despite getting brutally tortured, he successfully lifts it. This admittedly well-made movie has a powerful message of fighting for one’s life.
Unfortunately, it tries too hard to be inspirational. The movie doesn’t have enough to make us care for Zamperini. Not to mention having too many scenes of him getting tortured. It felt like I was watching The Passion of the Christ all over again. With a running time of 137 minutes, it feels rushed, repetitive, and unfinished.