Louis Zamperini became an Olympic athlete thanks to his brother Pete’s attempts to change his life around. With the outbreak of World War II he never gets to compete in his second Olympics. After a plane crash, which in the end was the easiest thing for him to survive.
The story is shown in flashback form to begin with as we understand the way Louis was as a child and how his brother helped him turn it all around, showing what the power of sport would do. Giving him the base that he would need to survive the war, strong heart and ability to never give up.
When he is in a plane crash which sees only three of the crew survive, they are then left stranded on a raft for an incredible 47 days. Those scenes are very difficult to watch as you see the three men wasting away and trying to keep their minds active. They help each other, and Louis is key to keeping everyone alive.
But when you are thinking it cannot possibly get any worse, a bitter-sweet moment occurs. They have been found and rescued, by the Japanese and sent to a prisoner of war camp. Where as you can imagine it only gets a lot worse, especially when he gets off on the wrong foot with Watanabe aka The Bird. He is down right evil and pretty much just likes lashing out at people.
Louis does not back down for an easy life just getting by, he seems to seek out Watanabe and they wind each other up constantly. Which causes more physical harm for Louis. The torture scenes aren’t the worst we have on film and some of the story is lacking. The disappointing thing has to be the overview of how his life was when he got home and that wasn’t delved into properly and the after effects of the war.
This film reached a certain point and I realised it was very similar to that of ‘The Railway Man’ a film which I found to be a total surprise package last year. That had more heart and a better telling of a similar story. I wonder if with that film being released last year that impacted on how they approached Unbroken? Well for me if I had to choose and recommend one of these WWII Japanese torture films, it would be The Railway Man every time. Unbroken is just lacking compared to that, it should have taken a similar method in the story telling.
It glossed over how the war changed on Louis and that everything would work out when he got back home. I didn’t really like how they ended it with the clips of him running with the Olympic flame back in Japan either as surely a huge part of his life was important in those gaps? That might just be nit picking but we cannot believe and know he would not have been ok to begin with.
A half-hearted attempt at striking a cord with the heart-strings? Well that’s what I felt it was, nowhere near as good as ‘The Railway Man’ – watch that on Netflix instead of heading to the cinema to see this one.