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Unbroken

In theaters December 25, 2014

Unbroken stars Jack O’Connell as Louis Zamperini. The movie covers parts of Louis’ childhood and young adult life but mostly focuses on his time in the armed forces fighting against Japan during WWII. Throughout the two hour and 17 minute narrative viewers witness many of the trials and tribulations that take young Louis from a juvenile delinquent to a world class Olympic runner all the way to a surviving prisoner held captive by the Japanese.

Assisting director Angelina Jolie on the production side of the film were the veteran writing duo of brothers, Joel and Ethan Coen who prepared the screenplay. As far as the casting goes there aren’t a lot of household names featured. Probably the biggest recognizable name and face is actor Jai Courtney. The only other two that might likely be on a radar of the casual viewer would be Finn Wittrock (currently featured in season four of American Horror Story) and Garrett Hedlund (played the lead character in Tron: Legacy was also a co-star in 2005’s Four Brothers). Outside of that everyone else the talent is somewhat obscure.

Early on the pace of Unbroken moved along quite nicely. This in part due to flashbacks of earlier times in Zamperini’s life that helped shape into the man that the majority of the film focused on. Using that strategy kept what was seen on screen new and fresh. There was seemingly something interesting happening with every scene. Unfortunately the flashbacks came to an end thus slowing the movie dramatically by focusing on a single timeline in which the real suffering in Zamperini’s life began. This was necessary albeit a little drawn out due to the fact that it was pretty much the same thing happening over and over again. Understanding the fact that the story is based on actual events it’s tough sometimes to toe the line of real life and Hollywood embellishments.

At the end of the day the lessons learned involve endurance, determination and the ability to triumph against the steepest of odds. Unbroken gives viewers access to a roller coaster of emotions while also allowing them see what to see what it takes to survive when there’s no hope in sight. Angelina Jolie is still in her infancy in regards to working behind the camera but her future in this newer capacity is as bright as the rising sun. While on the heavier side emotionally, the slow burn of witnessing what Louis Zamperini endured a mere 70 years ago offers true theatrical inspiration.

After seeing Unbroken most will have a new appreciation for just what was sacrificed in the name of war. It isn’t pretty, it isn’t glamorous and it isn’t self promoting. War is typically a dark time where the worst comes out of people. It is also a time where those same people do whatever is needed to make it to the next day, maybe just the next hour. Louis Zamperini is a true American hero and that message comes across loud and clear after watching this film. Unbroken is in theaters on Christmas Day, 2014 and if you desire a no frills drama this would be a good choice.

Unbroken is streaming now on the following services:
Movie Reelist Contributor: Carl Wheeler

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