Posted December 25, 2014 by in


Total Score

1.5/ 5

Quick Stats

Genre: WWII drama
Director: Angelina Jolie
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Actors: Jack O'Connell, Takamasa Ishihara, Domhnall Gleeson
Length: 137 minutes
Release Date: 12/25/2014
Studio: 3 Arts Entertainment, Jolie Pas, Legendary Pictures
What We Thought

A film about a man who does nothing and says nothing. Riveting.

by Daniel Hodgson
Full Article
How can a story about an Olympic distance runner turned WWII P.O.W. be so uninteresting?
     Unbroken is about Louis Zamperini (Jack O’Connell), whose plane went down over the Pacific during a search-and-rescue mission.  Zamperini and two other survived the crash, and the film does Life of Pi for about 15 minutes, but without the imagery (or the tiger).  A Japanese ship picks them up, and they’re sent to the first of three prison camps.  Unbroken is about his experiences in the camps, but the story takes the scenic route to get there.
     Zamperini was a bombardier prior to his capture, and the film opens with a bombing run, an action sequence unrelated to the main thrust of the story.  The first half of the film flashes back to his formative years, back when he was a punk kid, drinking and smoking at an early age, and peeping at women from underneath the bleachers at the school’s track.  Always in trouble, he got good at running away pretty darn fast, and so his older brother channeled that into distance running for the school.
     After so much meandering, Unbroken finally arrives at the first prison camp.  That’s when Zamperini clamps up.  O’Connell has precious little dialog from this point on.  Or does this film have nothing to say?
     And he doesn’t do much of anything, either.  He does suffer, though.  He suffers a lot.   Think of Unbroken as a PG-13 The Passion of the Christ, because the movie thinks of itself that way.  At the hands of “The Bird” (Takamasa Ishihara), the sadistic leader of prison camp, Zamperini metaphorically gets 40 lashes minus one, is forced to carry a cross, and is crucified.
     The last half is all the same.  Beatings and brutality, and without a thought or observation from its protagonist.  None of which makes the film especially interesting.  A good story is like a chess game.  One side moves, and the other responds.  As a story,Unbroken is uninteresting because it lacks essential dynamism.  Unbroken is a film about a man who does nothing and says nothing.  Riveting.
     Wait, a WWII movie with a Christ-figure, coming out late in the year, close to awards time?  Yup, this is straight-up Oscar bait.

About the Author

Daniel Hodgson

Daniel has a degree in film from the University of Texas at Austin, and writes about himself in the third-person, because that's the fashion.


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