Unbroken

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Jay Forry & @wgwgdotorg film critic @noeltmanning review Unbroken – Angelina Jolie’s new biopic on an Olympic Athlete & WWII POW

At the helm of her second movie, Angelina Jolie directs the emotional and inspiring biopic, Unbroken. In 1936 Louis Zamperini (Jack O’Connell) was a gold medalist in the summer Olympics and five years later when World War II began he joined the U.S. Air Force. While flying a mission over the Pacific Ocean his bomber is shot down and for 43 days he and his buddy Russell Allen ‘Phil’ Phillips (Domhnall Gleeson) survive Japanese fighter planes, storms, and sharks while floating in a raft until they are captured by the Japanese. While in a POW camp, Zamperini is tortured by Japanese commander Mutsushira Watanade (“Miyavi” Thadmasa Ishihara) because of his notoriety as a U.S. Olympic track star. Zamperini doesn’t leave the concentration camp until the end of the war, but he never looses his passion and will to live. I try to never read a book that is going to be made into a movie, but this time because of my friend Ron, I read the audio book first. Of course you always hear that the book is better than the film – but is that really true or are people just trying to prove that they read? (I guess it’s just assumed that intelligent people read books – whatever.) In this case, I thought the film was actually better than the book, which was written in 2010. “Why is that?” Ron asked. The entire first third of the book had details about Zamperini, his brother, his family, and his neighbors and yes, even their pets. I put down the book aggravated that Ron gave me bad reading advice and he said to me, “Finish it and you will love this inspiring story.”‘ He was correct – I did love it, which leads me to why I enjoyed the movie better. The film cuts out most of the details except through flashbacks and jumps right into the meat of the story. The movie doesn’t change any details and best of all, it doesn’t feel like it is trying to emotionally manipulate the audience. There are no gratuitous deaths and no over the top speeches or crying scenes. (Of course Zamperini would never cry.) Unlike the book, this film has a fantastic beginning but at the midpoint, the torture scenes begin to feel repetitive even though some are needed to spotlight Zamperini’s will to survive. Joel and Ethan Cohen wrote the screenplay and share the responsibility for the success of this movie with fantastic actors and the superb direction of Angelina Jolie. I’m giving this survivor film an A- rating.

This movie has been given a PG13 rating by the MPAA