Film Review: Unbroken


Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken tells a remarkable true story, but its execution does not elevate it above other films of this ilk.

Olympic runner Louis Zamperini has put his running career on hold to serve in the US armed forces.

 After a plane crash in the Pacific, Louis must try to survive in harsh conditions, before facing even greater trials…

Based on a true story, Unbroken combines biopic conventions with those of a war movie. Angelina Jolie has returned to war for her second directorial feature, and she chooses to depict the horrors of conflict in detail.

Unbroken‘s  screenplay functions adequately to maintain the audience’s attention. Viewers would be forgiven for expecting more than this, however, with the Coen brothers’ involvement. The crux of Zamperini’s story makes the film engaging; it is inherently interesting, rather than any particular craft of the storytelling.

Jolie offers an unflinching portrait of the horrors of war. The direction is perfunctory in depicting brutality; there is no real flair to this. The flashbacks work to build a picture of the central character. The protagonist has an inspiring story, but Unbroken concentrates on his strength entirely, negating the obvious negative impact that such an experience would have on a person.

Survival is a strong theme in Unbroken. It is a little disappointing that the film did not spend more time on the after effects of Louis’ experiences. Some significant aspects were glossed over in the pre-credits round up. Unbroken could have explored these aspects as part of the film rather than making them an afterthought.

Roger Deakins’ cinematography offers a few beautifully composed shots, but overall it is not quite on par with some of his previous films. Jack O’Connell offers a strong performance as Louis.

Ultimately it is a shame that Unbroken did not offer a more satisfying rendition of its source material. By no means a disaster, nevertheless the film is not the striking cinema it could have been.