Unbroken [2014] ★★½

unbroken_australian_poster-600x888Solidly crafted, impeccably acted and self-important in the way that Oscar loves, Angelina Jolie’s “Unbroken” is also incredibly close to exploitation. That’ll happen I guess, when your driving plot depicts the incredibly true story of Olympic athlete Louis Zamperini, from a crash landing of his plane at sea during WWII to 47 agonizing days in a life raft, followed by seemingly endless abuse as a Japanese prisoner of war. Usually I’m a sucker for this kind of picture, which has a great deal of sentiment built into it but I found its execution too blatant and might I add cheesy. Still, because the material itself is absorbing and pretty powerful at times, and because it’s a handsome production, “Unbroken” is very watchable. It has all the makings of a crowd-pleaser and I think a lot of viewers will be responsive to it. Good actors like Jack O’Connell (as Zamperini), Domnhall Gleeson (son of the great Brendon Gleeson) and Takamasa Ishihara (as a sadistic Japanese prison warden) fill the cast. But for the most part, they are called upon to approach their parts in the most transparent way possible. Nothing is left for us to discover on our own. And ultimately, that’s my problem with the movie, which clocks in at 137 minutes. As much as I admire Angelina Jolie’s skills, I wish someone else had tackled this delicate subject.

Rating: 2.5/4

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