Louis Zamperini: National running champion, Olympian, bombardier, castaway, prisoner of war. To hold even one of these titles tells of a story of struggle and endurance. To hold all five speaks of an individual whose life story can only serve to inspire, even in these cynical times.
As you can imagine, the story to be told is immense, and director Angelina Jolie had to bring it all together.
Unfortunately, she was unable to pull it off, or to do the book of the same title by Laura Hillenbrand justice.
Jolie did get one thing right though, in casting Jack O’Connell as Zamperini. Who? I don’t know, but the English actor is surely a talent to watch.
Despite his relatively young age, O’Connell’s portrayal of Zamperini exudes bravery, discipline and strength of character.
But the real star of the show is supporting actor Takamasa Ishihara, better known as the rock star Miyavi. Tasked with the immense responsibility of being the foil to O’Connell’s Zamperini, he took on the role of The Bird, a sadistic prison warden, and made him absolutely believable.
Right from the get-go, The Bird’s presence dominates the narrative, projecting a dark and empty aura with no compassion. But far from being an empty, one-dimensional character, The Bird actually draws out pity when none should be given.
What’s most astounding is that Miyavi had no prior acting credits before this movie. If you do watch Unbroken, take some time to do a Google Image search for him. The difference is literally night and day.
But aside from the two leads, the movie dragged and was uninspired. There were some highlights such as the beam lifting scene that the publicity posters portray, and Angelina did a wonderful job of capturing the two actors’ intensity.
The rest of the movie was lacklustre, with what were meant to be high points quickly grossed over and emotional moments that will draw unintentional laughter from the audience.
The real issue here is that a movie and a documentary are two different modes of storytelling and entertain in different ways.
A movie seeks to dramatize an event and provide us with an emotional understanding of the event while entertaining us. A documentary provides facts that allow us a window to project our understanding of the emotions about the event. We got a combination of both.
Ms Jolie made a “Moviementary” – which didn’t quite succeed.
Unbroken is in cinemas now. Tell us what you think of the movie!