For the most part, though, the script hews to the typical dramatic contours of a marriage troubled by unemployment, unresolved anger, and alcoholism—pro forma stuff, too blandly treated to inspire much more than indifference. No wonder, then, that after Zamperini sinks to his knees during an altar call at the Greater Los Angeles Revival, he quickly disposes of all drink and is instantly freed from his nightmares.
Jack O'Connell breaks through in Unbroken
Overflowing with a newfound grace, he even travels to Tokyo to visit a prison for Japanese war criminals. Unbroken: Path To Redemption ultimately preaches forgiveness—a message that, in and of itself, is unobjectionable.
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Bon Jovi Unveil New Single ‘Unbroken’ Benefiting Patriotic Service Dog Foundation
The film is photographed by the great cinematographer Roger Deakins, who includes a few particularly arresting overhead shots. Unbroken , the third effort from Jolie as a filmmaker, feels like a direct product of her continuing efforts to burnish herself to inhuman perfection in appearance and personal life. It's beautifully made and inert, but stripped of deficiencies and earthiness, not to mention the complications of recovery and faith the movie chooses not to touch.
Even Zamperini feels distant: His childhood misbehavior quickly gives way to stalwart perseverance he embraces his brother's aphorism, "If you can take it, you can make it" and his personality is expressed mainly in the stories he tells his fellow Air Force officers about his mother's gnocchi to take their minds off starvation while they drift at sea. On screen, Zamperini comes across as a martyr rather than a person, which the film emphasizes at one point by having him struggle to lift a large wooden log, stretching out under it like Jesus, or like a less charismatic Cool Hand Luke.
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Jolie's wild child days are long gone, but it's tempting to seek out the glimmers of the unpredictable woman who blew into Girl, Interrupted like a tornado and who wore once-husband Billy Bob Thornton's blood in a vial around her neck in the aspiring icon she's become. In In the Land of Blood and Honey , her flawed but interesting first scripted film, there were hints of her former self in the way she allowed the intensely fraught relationship between a Serbian soldier and the Bosniak prisoner he dated before the war to be sexy as well as imbalanced and increasingly disturbing.
In Unbroken , the frisson of the unexpected comes courtesy of Miyavi, the Japanese glam rock star who, in his acting debut, plays Mutsuhiro Watanabe nicknamed "The Bird" , the prison camp commander who takes a special interest in Louis. Strikingly androgynous and erratically sadistic, The Bird tells Louis he sees him as a friend — "Will you congratulate me? But friendship with The Bird is no blessing, as Louis is singled out for unique humiliations and punishments, some involving the participation of his fellow captives.
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Like the rest of the film, these sequences feel like a nod to another better movie, but at least in this case, it's an edgier one: the WWII drama Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence , in which a POW camp captain, played by Ryuichi Sakamoto, develops a fixation on a dashing, rebellious prisoner, played by David Bowie.
Unbroken tamps down the homoeroticism, but between the flickers that remain and the territory explored in In the Land of Blood and Honey , there's evidence that the movie Jolie should be directing is something like a remake of The Night Porter rather than these self-serious war sagas. It'll never happen, but here's hoping anyway. After all, the world needs a daring and distinctively female exploration of desire so much more than it needs another gleaming, hollow prestige picture, especially one that ducks all its more human drama.
- Common Sense says.
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