Someone once said famously that war is hell. The things that war makes a man do, both good and evil is extraordinary. Over the last seventy plus years, World War II has produced many stories that show both sides of the Great War, and while more has been focused on the German side of it, the battle in the Pacific has had it’s share as well. Movies have always embraced these tales, and if you wanted to win an award all you usually had to do was release a story from World War II at the right time and watch it sweep up. “Unbroken” has the right ingredients, but how does it taste after it is all said and done?
“Unbroken” is a true story about Louis Zamperini (Jack O’ Connell) and survival story. Based on the book written by Laura Hillenbrand, you will be inspired by the trials and tribulations Louis went through in order to survive. Louis was not always a great hero, as a kid we often got in trouble, and if it wasn’t for his brother Pete (Alex Russell), he would not have found his calling in running track. It was the running that leads him on the right path and to the 1936 Olympics. A promising future is diverted, when the war breaks out, and Louis becomes a bombardier. While on a search and rescue mission, Louis’s plane crashes into the ocean, where he and two others survive, one being the pilot “Phil” Phillips (Domhnall Gleeson). The three survivors drift at sea for forty-seven days, before things get worst, and the Japanese’s Navy rescues them. After nearly dying at sea, Phil and Louis are put through the ultimate test of survival and do whatever they can to get through the war alive.
There is no denying the power of this story and the inspiration you will get from reading or hearing it. There are not many books you will enjoy reading more, than Hillenbrand’s novel of Zamperini’s life. While the book will make you feel like you can do anything, the movie has parts that make you want to take a nap instead. Gone is the feeling of accomplishment and amazement of the story, and is replaced instead with the “safe” story to fit the screen. While the heart is intact, the screenwriters, who included Joel and Ethan Coen, leave out some of the rough edges that give it the much needed depth. The other problem the film suffers from is pace, which lands directly on first time director Angelina Jolie, too often the film feels slow, like it is just going through the familiar motions. While the novel is a great read, with the parts left out and the pace of the film you get just an ok movie. When announced that Jolie was turning “Unbroken” into a film, the hopes were high, and many write it in as a shoe-in for awards, but then people started to see the film and things changed. While the movie does not live up to the book, the story itself is amazing and should be read. I wanted to enjoyed this movie, having read the source material, but instead I left this movie, not only thinking war is hell, but also turning a great book into a movie can be as well.