Unbroken is a perfectly respectable film, competently directed and performed. What's missing is real emotion; I never felt genuinely moved.
As a lesser known chapter of World War II, Unbroken is a welcome addition. However, as a particularly special chapter of it, Unbroken required us to care for Zamperini more than we may end up doing.
Jolie hasn't done a disservice to Zamperini's life, but it's hard to know what she was trying to tell. It's Zamperini's story in fact and circumstance, but somehow, he feels like an enigma.
...apart from an engaging screenplay (Coen Brothers), cinematographer Roger Deakins's frames are vivid and powerful and Alexandre Desplat's score augments at optimal moments but thankfully, never overwhelms. O'Connell and Ishihara bring a stunning sense of realism to their roles, which is a great reason why you'll want to watch this movie.
Jolie's film clicks as an inspirational work. Cliched as its tone is, Unbroken manages to make you feel thankful about life in the end.
It is in the last and final lap that the film stumbles a bit – after all, there is only so much of prisoners camp incidents that you can take, not because of the violence but because it gets routine. Jolie perhaps wanted to highlight the fact the how in-human mortals become during war and the point is well taken.
The most interesting aspect of the film is the psychological war between Zamperini and the brutal Japanese camp head 'The Bird' played by the Japanese singer Miyavi. Some of the exchanges between them are so over-the-top they seem manufactured for drama, so it's quite unsettling to know that Zamperini actually went through all that torture and lived to tell the tale. This is a fairly decent movie, but Zamperini deserved a much better one.
Unbroken lowers your expectations with a promising but unspectacular beginning, only to take you on a moving and inspirational journey from a small town in California to prison camps in the heart of Japan. While it may not be path-breaking cinema, it marks an assured turn behind the lens for Jolie and star-making performance from Jack O'Connell. It's a great start to the year for world cinema, one you should join in.
Unbroken is one of those movies that tell a story about a man and his spirit. That is the biggest reason to watch this movie. To quibble over the way the story is told is fine. But you need to remember that these stories have to be heard and told, so that you remember the men and women whose sacrifices kept the darkness away. Watch the movie and try to think about the true cost of war. That should give you pause.