Director: Angelina Jolie
Writers: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, Richard LaGravenese, William Nicholson
Cast: Jack O’ Connell, Domhnall Gleeson, Garrett Hedlund, Jai Courtney, Takamasa Ishihara
Studio: Universal

“Unbroken” is the story of Olympian Louis Zamperini and his trials during World War II. The film has been accused of merely restating the basic facts while trying to paint Zamperini with the brush of sainthood. While I can see how a negative mind might view it that way. There are frequent strokes of genius throughout the film that unveils something greater about the Olympian. More than anything, it evokes an older era of inspirational tales where great feats of human spirit are cast in a series of greatest hits. If anything, Jolie uses these moments to make “Unbroken” into a fresher update of “Sergeant York”.

I never thought that Angelina Jolie had a movie like this in her. While she skips over a degree of the religious trappings and doesn’t dwell on Zamperini’s Japanese torturers, Jolie hits the big notes in a 2 1/2 hour span. Unfortunately, these hasty choices will cost her a Best Director nomination at the Academy Awards. But, this is only her second feature and I can already see broad levels of improvement. Dare I say, that is the difference between a “Duel” and a “Sugarland Express”.

While the film isn’t exactly setting American theaters on fire, I hope that the film continues to find an audience throughout the winter months. We don’t get that many well-earned biopics about true heroes anymore. Too often, these films are given to hacks that want to force a message down your throat. True inspiration in film is so difficult with such a jaded modern audience. I can only hope that viewers will warm to Zamperini’s conquest of his adversities. Audiences don’t get to root for true good guys anymore.

RELEASE DATE: 12/25/2014

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