The sound of an air raid and guns going off are the last things WWII survivors want to remember, yet they like to talk about them. I’ve recanted about posttraumatic stress in the military, yet I’ve recently heard about curing the nightmares by talking about it. Not just in a therapeutic way but also to walk the footsteps they’ve already taken, therefore retracing their thoughts to see what they learned out of it. It may be simply don’t go to war, but it could also be to never give up hope. Becoming a military storyteller just may be what the doctor ordered.
I can vouch for my own grandfather who is ninety-four, yet seems to be in good spirits and health. He served as a medic during WWII, a doctor during the Korean War and Vietnam, and was a hospital administrator until sometime in the eighties when he retired. He always likes to talk about his days in the Navy and they are some fantastic tales of courage. Cinema has seen many stories of ones heroic experience during wartime. Last year, we had Lone Survivor during the war on terror. Now we have a WWII story in Unbroken.
Louie Zamperini begins as an Italian immigrant who is still a young boy when his family settled in Torrance, California. He’s a troublemaker and constantly bullied for being an immigrant, but his brother Peter notices how fast he is. With a new pair of shoes, Louie become a respected runner, even gaining the name “the Torrance Tornado”, going as far as the 1936 Olympics in Berlin where he places 8th. WWII comes next where Louie immediately joins, looking to serve his country and maybe make it to the next Summer Games.
He becomes a bombardier in the Air Force in the South Pacific where he’s found a crowd of people he can call his friends. Their called on a search mission in an unstable plane, which the military insists is air-worthy. Both engines fail, crashing into the sea. Three make it out; Zamperini, Mac and Phil. They survive on a raft where they ration the little food they have and attempt to ward the sharks that are swimming around them. They manage to go on living for another forty-seven days (though they lose Mac) when they’re finally found…by the Japanese military. Their captured and sent to a P.O.W. camp where Zamperini endures the meanest military officer around, Mutsuhiro “Bird” Watanabe, who feels nothing but jealousy for the Olympic athlete.
This “military grunt who goes through the storm to triumph” seems like something that has been done before…and I’m not gonna lie when I feel like that it’s familiar to me too. But that didn’t ruin my experience watching this as Zamperini is a very likable guy here, always showing the will to survive even when the Japanese tell him that he’s nothing. Jack O’Connell plays our lead and does really well with this guy, giving him the needed rebellious edge to give him his strength for his darkest moments.
Angelina Jolie is behind the camera here as the film looks really well. Much of the news behind Unbroken is her directing this movie. While it’s not as groundbreaking as Stanley Kubrick or Oliver Stone, she can paint an impressive side of the war. The movie itself is something that I’m glad I watched, but I don’t know if I’d watch it again. It’s not the story, but it’s just kind of sandwiched between a lot of other war movies. I would understand why people would love this and even understand why it could become a box office hit,
I’ll give this four B-24 Liberator planes out of five. Unbroken manages to pass as something that’s interesting to hear about, though once you hear about the hundreds of military triumph stories, it’ll be easy to lose track.