DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

UNBROKEN (director: Angelina Jolie; screenwriters: Joel and Ethan Coen/Richard LaGravenese/William Nicholson/based on the book by Laura Hillenbrand; cinematographer: Roger Deakins; editors: Tim Squyres/William Goldenberg; music:  Alexandre Desplat; cast: Jack O'Connell (Louis Zamperini), Domhnall Gleeson (Russell Allen 'Phil' Phillips), Miyavi (Mutsushiro Watanabe), Garrett Hedlund (John Fitzgerald), Finn Wittrock (Francis 'Mac' McNamara), Jai Courtney (Hugh 'Cup' Cuppernell), John Magaro (Frank A. Tinker),  Luke Treadaway (Miller), Sophie Dalah (Virginia), Alex Russell (Pete Zamperini), John D'Leo (Young Pete),  C.J. Valleroy (Young Louis), Vincenzo Amato (Anthony Zamperini), Ross Anderson (Blackie), Bangalie Keita (Jesse Owens),  Maddalena Ischiale (Louise Zamperini); Runtime: 137; MPAA Rating: PG-!3; producers: Angelina Jolie/Clayton Townsend/Matthew Baer/Erwin Stoff; Universal; 2014-in English, with Japanese and Italian and English subtitles wnen needed)

"Left me unmoved by what is supposedly a moving story."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Angelina Jolie ("In the Land of Blood and Honey") directs this well-crafted old-fashioned biopic on the life of Louis Zamperini (Jack O'Connell). It's written by Joel and Ethan Coen, Richard LaGravenese and William Nicholson. It's based on the book by Laura Hillenbrand.

The film opens in 1943 with Louis on a B-24 bomber mission against the Japanese. After mechanical problems in the air, the bomber tries to get back to the base while still under attack. Meanwhile there are flashbacks of young Louis (C.J. Valleroy) as a poor Italian immigrant growing up in Torrance, Southern California, where he was a juvenile delinquent and faced bigoted taunts from the local kids. His older brother Peter (John D'Leo) mentors him to join the track team and give up his aimless life. In the 1936 Berlin Olympics Louis runs the fastest lap of the 5,000-metres race.

The plane crashes in the Pacific, with eight dead, and the resourceful Louis leads the way in trying to survive on a raft with two of his crew, the pilot Phil & the new gunner Mac (Domhnall Gleeson & Finn Wittrock). After 47 days the raft is picked up in the Pacific by a Japanese naval vessel, but Mac has died. Zamperini for the next two years is a tortured inmate in a POW camp run by a deranged, sadistic officer nicknamed by the prisoners ‘The Bird’  (Miyavi, Japanese popstar). How Louis survives his physical and mental ordeal and remains human, is what makes his story extraordinary.

Everything about the production is competent, from the Coen brother script to the great photography by the cinematographer Roger Deakins, but the war drama never reaches any great heights and the supposedly moving story left me unmoved.

The real-life Zamperini died of pneumonia in July at the age of 97.

REVIEWED ON 12/2/2014       GRADE: C+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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