Film Review: Unbroken

Directed by Anunbroken_ver4gelina Jolie

Starring Jack O’Connell, Domhnall Gleeson, Garrett Hedlund

Based upon the Laura Hillebrand book of the same name and the true story of war hero Louis Zamperini’s plane crash and subsequent capture by the Japanese in the Second World War – it’s certainly a big task. Unfortunately for Ms Jolie, the enormity of the pressure has perhaps slightly hindered her overall direction. Sure, she has made a valiant effort here, but unfortunately, she isn’t quite able to succeed in pulling the subject matter off.

It’s not entirely her fault - the real weakness here lies in the limp script (somewhat surprising given the involvement of the Coen Brothers) and sheer ‘glossiness’ of it all.

It’s not all bad – numerous scenes (particularly when the soldiers are stranded at sea) are rather impressive, and Jolie does try and capture the camaraderie amongst the soldiers, particularly during the first half of the film. Unfortunately, the film slightly falls apart during the latter half, and much needed moments which gave the book (and the character of Louis) real gravitas are completely cut.

Given that this is only her second film, Jolie is no dab-hand at directing, so I guess she needs to be cut a bit of slack. She does try and capture the ‘look’ of the film, and to a certain degree she succeeds. But that’s precisely the problem – Unbroken is all ‘look’ with very little substance.

And whilst numerous actors do their best with the weak script, they can’t really bring the essence of the characters they are playing to life. They’re not all bad, and Skins alumni Jack O’Connell is pretty much the best part of the film. As the central character of Zamperini – he certainly has his work cut out for him – particularly given the dialogue he has to work with. But his Louis provides the emotional centrepiece of the film (as he should), and O’Connell really makes us feel genuine emotion for him. No wonder then that he’s being considered one of the actors to watch in Hollywood.

Unfortunately, with the sure fire awards buzz now somewhat quashed given the lack of Golden Globe nominations, it is clear that Unbroken is somewhat of a victim of media hype. Overly glossy, lacking in character development and completely missing key scenes – the film can’t help but be a bit of a disappointment.  It’s a shame, as given a better script and a slightly more experienced director; this could have been a real cinematic treat.

3/5

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