Unbroken is directed by Angelina Jolie and tells the tale of Louie Zamperini (Jack O'Connell) from his time as an Italian immigrant to his service in World War 2 and ultimately to his time as a Japanese Prisoner of War.
I was very mixed going into this film primarily because of my hit and miss views on Jolie herself but the promise of her directing a film made me think "If she can win me over here then I am happy to be wrong about her" after all Ben Affleck and Russell Crowe have pulled it off before so why not Jolie, right?
Well sadly maybe not I'm afraid as this is not that great of a film which is a shame given the true story of this man should make for a very compelling film and part of that problem is Jolie's direction itself, it feels very flat for the most lacking the pop and style of both Affleck and Crowe's directorial work which is a shame given how much she felt for this material but just can't bring it to life in a way that feels cinematic and exciting and uplifting as it should.
The other reason this is the case is that this film gives off a strong air of "Been there, seen that" from it and I'll break those down now:
- The first is the scenes on the life raft which only served to remind me of the Simpsons episode where Homer, Bart and Ned Flanders are stranded out at sea and have to survive before Homer's extra keen sense of smell saves the day for them (at one point I did say to myself "God speed little doodle" and "We're done for, we're done diddily done for")
- The second is the scenes in the camps themselves which for all the time I had after I came out of the film just kept reminding me of the Railway Man from last year as well as the recently released Water Diviner and in both of those films you really got a sense that the Japanese and the Turks respectively were given a chance to be fleshed out into real 3 dimensional characters with their own view of who they consider the enemy in the War.
Here the Japanese guards just come across as clones of the colony masters from 12 Years a Slave where they pretty much take any excuse they need to beat their subjects senseless and after a while I just thought to myself "I am finding it hard to care at this stage" after Beating number 156.
However I did think O'Connell, Domnhall Gleeson and Takamasa Ishihara were actually pretty good but Jolie like Chris Nolan and his work on Interstellar and Peter Jackson on the final Hobbit film the Battle of the Five Armies needed to think this film through more in terms of what vision she has for the story as it is very lacking here.
And so Unbroken has a great story at its core but it lacks the vision and the emotional impact to bring it to life in a way that stands out from other movies about the 2 World Wars of which there are very many, 1.5 out of 5.