This was the second World War II movie that I
have seen in a week, and to be honest, I didn't really want to
see it. During Christmas, there are always uplifting
movies to see, and for some reason, that really wears thin
quickly. Plus, the whole Sony data hack and Angelina
Jolie's name being mentioned frequently, etc. Sometimes
actors-turned-directors make a solid first effort, and
sometimes you just wish they would stick with their day job.
Fortunately, Jolie's efforts are not wasted, and "Unbroken" is
not only watchable, but kind of interesting to boot. Another
true story set in World War II (I just finished "The Imitation
Game" review) about Louis Zamperini, this movie was not dead
set on being uplifting. In fact, most of the movie
demonstrates that Louis has lived a harrowing life, but the
only victory has been not getting killed.
Played by Jack O'Connell, Zamperini was an Olympian that
served in the war and survived 47 days in a raft with two
others after being shot down. Their rescuers were the
Japanese army, and I use the word "rescuers" loosely.
The proverbial out of the frying pan and into the fire ensues,
and the sad part was that I don't think his experience was
unique. I used to live in Japan as a kid, and this movie
reminded me why Japan is forbidden from ever having a standing
army. This is one movie based on a true story that
probably downplays his time in an internment camp just to get
a PG-13 rating.
I can't even call the camp commandant
sadistic because his abhorrent behavior was probably par for
the course. And don't forget, you have to compare their
behavior to Nazi's, so the feeling that Louis will be killed
at every turn dominates the mood, but at the same time
EVERYONE is about to be killed. This type of inurement
is very similar to listening to music at 200 decibels; after
awhile, you become tone deaf to nuances. And I think
this is what this movie lacks.
I know to save time, the story must focus on the highlights of
the story, and yes, there are some quieter moments, but
overall the movie is set on level 8 out of 10. Meaning,
the movie glosses over his Olympic athlete days, goes straight
into being downed and spending 47 days in a raft, and then
years spent in a P.O.W. camp being tortured as "an enemy of
Japan." Before seeing the movie, I had heard that the
real Zamperini died this year, so that's kind of a
spoiler. But to spend only a minute or two at most
updating the audience at the very end of the movie about what
happened to him after the war ended kind of left me
cold. Uplifting this movie is not.
And again, movies about real heroes always destroys your
confidence in the karmic justice system. Watch any
WWII war trials, and you will sadly discover that
against overwhelming evidence, war criminals by and large got
to live their lives out and die of old age. I guess our
heroes are more forgiving than I could be, so Zamperini's life
is inspirational for those that can forgive atrocities at the
hands of others.
No spoilers here, I give it 77 points out of 100.
Commendable, but a movie you have seen before in various
incarnations, plus a watered-down PG-13 doesn't help. It
lacks the brutality and immorality of finer war movies, plus
destroys the illusion that war criminals actually received
justice commensurate with their behavior. Not the fault
of Jolie, but to tell a tale such as this, it needs to be a
bit more stunning to register on my meter.