Life is what happens while some are just trying to survive. In Unbroken, Angelina Jolie epic, ambitious but also commendably restrained retelling of the life of Louis Zamperini, the canvas is vast, and so is the range of pain inflicted on a young man during wartime.
Jolie proves to be enormously talented as a storyteller, but unfortunately the film is preoccupied with showing us that everybody has their reasons. In so doing, and by watering down the violence and bloodshed, it also commits the indefensible sin of downplaying the horrors of war.
Zamperini’s life was filled with good fortune but also a great deal of physical suffering at the hands of his captors, and the desire to survive obviously makes him a heroic character that deserves the big-screen treatment. The film plays it safe throughout, making sure to achieve nothing higher than a PG-13 rating by having children-friendly dialogue and restraining its depiction of violence; however, in its final moments it goes for broke by clearly drawing a visual parallel to Jesus Christ on the cross, and the absurdity of this comparison leaves a sour taste in the mouth.
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(Still of Jack O’Connell in Unbroken. Photo by David James – © 2014 – Universal Pictures.)