Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Movie Review: Unbroken

Angelina Jolie's directorial debut. Not bad, not great. As many know, Seabiscuit is one of my favorite books and author Laura Hillenbrand when researching the exploits of the gimpy-horse-that -could came across a newspaper article about Louis Zamperini and his running exploits. She set it aside at the time and it was nine years later before Unbroken was published.

The story of Zamperini is incredible.  Born in 1917 to immigrant Italian parents in NY, he was nothing but trouble in his youth but thanks to the intervention of his older brother became a world class middle distance runner, competing in the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany.  He had hoped to run in the Tokyo games but of course the little matter of WWII put an end to that.  Louis signed up to be a bombardier on a B-24 and saw plenty of action in the Pacific.   The best scenes in the movie are early on, especially those involving bombing runs and the counter attacks by the dreaded Japanese Zero's. 

Zamperini gets shot down and survives several weeks with two others on a small raft in the middle of the shark infested ocean.  Then it gets worse: he is captured by the Japanese and what he goes through in the POW camp makes Guantanamo look like Disney.

Unfortunately, the movie is toned down a bit to get the PG13 rating and you just feel like it needed more of an edge to bring out the real prison camp horror show that Louis endured.  Too bad Clint was already engaged on American Sniper, he certainly would have made Unbroken a little more heartfelt and pulled no punches.

Unlike Chris Kyle, veteran Louis Zamperini lived until the ripe old age of 97, sadly passing away last year, just a few months before Unbroken was released.  He did get to see it though and his demise shortly thereafter is not in any way an indictment of Ms. Jolie. 

A solid B

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