Angelina Jolie’s third stint behind the camera comes in the form of a true story (note that’s true story, not based on a true story) about Louis Zamperini.
Adapted from the book of the same name, written by Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken tells the remarkable tale of Zamperini from childhood, through to Olympic athlete then a bombardier in the US Air Force before crashing into the sea, spending 47 days in a raft, and then being picked up by the Japanese and held as a PoW for some two years.
The movie has some pedigree straight from the word go with the Cohen brothers having adapted the book for the big screen and, whilst it may be a little mawkish at times, their script does a very good job of telling the story and, apparently, keeping true to the book (only a few exaggerations or changes crept in).
Jolie’s directing is beautifully on point for the movie helped, in no small part, by the cinematography of the master Roger Deakins, a long-time collaborator of the Cohen’s. Deakins ensures we are always in the scene as it plays out and you never feel removed or like you’re missing anything.
The opening of the film is akin to Saving Private Ryan, only the beach is replaced with an aerial dog-fight that visually and audibly is stunning. Throughout the film the visual affects, by Industrial Light & Magic, and sound effects are brilliant.
Englishman Jack O’Connell takes centre stage with the main role of Italian-American Zamperini, and a damn fine job he does too, portraying the beatings and punishments dished by PoW camp leader Mutsuhiro ‘Bird’ Watanabe, played by Takamasa Ishihara, with aplomb.
Zamperini is beaten down and down and down and, like some Hollywood movie, keeps coming back to fight once more.
No the film isn’t perfect, there are questions that have to be asked such (silly ones admittedly) such as: why do the three surviving bomber crews seem to grow quite well groomed goatee’s over the 47 days rather than just stubble or a beard? Why do all the PoW’s seem to have remarkably trimmed and styled haircuts?
More seriously some scenes did miss the mark, I’m not sure the 47 days at sea made me feel I was truly there, or that the crew were in constant peril. That could have been because it always looked like they were in a big tank, filled with water, or maybe that was just me.
Having said all that I liked the film, not sure I was expecting to but I did and I’m looking forward to Jolie behind the camera for her next outings.