‘Unbroken’ in review

Inspiring film examines “Unbroken” spirit of a POW

More stories from Sadie Sedlmayr



War. Survival. Redemption.

Those are the three words that truly define the crux of what Angelina Jolie’s 2014 film “Unbroken” is all about.

This stunning stroke of genius is based on the real life story of U.S. Olympian and bombardier war hero Louis Zamperini as he journeys from being a famous athlete on top of the world to hitting rock bottom as a prisoner of war.

Almost two years after its inception, “Unbroken,” still remains a hit with audiences, and I believe the same to be true, despite mixed reception by critics.

This film did the book by Laura Hillenbrand justice and is nothing short of a stunning success.

“Unbroken” is an aerial warfare cinematography and explores the enticing inexorableness of solemnity as well as dignity in a time of warfare. Jolie doesn’t shy away from showing the cruelty of war and the resilience of the human spirit when facing unimaginable circumstances.

From the beginning, the viewer is swept into a genuine and surreal performance by newcomer Jack O’Connell as he portrays Zamperini to endure the harsh conditions of war.

Set in World War II, this film tells the story of the “unbreakable” spirit of a fallen soldier who is thrusted into enemy territory and enslaved into isolation. Zamperini finds himself trying to survive the brutality of slave labor and the struggle of being held captive by an unstable sadist, Mutsuhiro “Bird” Watanabe (played by Miyavi), who thrives off of other people’s misery.

Watanabe’s jealously of Zamperini being a former Olympian pushes his sanity to the breaking point and provokes him to supplement the extremities of torture onto his prisoners. What follows is two years of a vicious cycle of physical, mental and emotional mistreatment from Wanabe.

The story is interposed by the strength of the human spirit as it exalts the gripping aftermath of the ripples of international warfare on both sides. It all comes down to a touching yet intense finish that had me tearing up by the time the end credits rolled.

In terms of acting, the performances are nothing short of spectacular by the two leading characters.

Miyavi’s acting abilities were so brazenly fascinating and accurate to the real deal (Wantabe) that it was daunting how precise his portrayal was of the real life sadomasochist monster. I was impressed by how he took ownership of this role by making it his own as well.

O’Connell really tugged at my heartstrings and I felt like I was going through the motions with him as he withstood the consequences of being a hostage of war.

However, it was Miyavi’s performance alone that blew me away. I have never felt such deep animosity for an antagonist before like I did Miyavi and I never felt so much sorrow for a main character like O’Connell. So in that regard, Jolie struck gold with her two male leads.

I recommend this film to any movie lover out there. “Unbroken” will make you feel every emotion under the sun as well as leave you laughing, crying, squirming in uneasiness at the intensity of it, all the while demanding your utmost devotion from the beginning to the end.

“Unbroken” will be screened at 7.pm. Friday and at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Woodland Theater.