Being a good actor doesn’t necessarily mean you can be a good director too. Not to say it hasn’t worked for people. Clint Eastwood, Robert Redford and Mel Gibson are perhaps prime examples of this. Good actors who became good directors. Ben Affleck and George Clooney are also included in this category but more often than not it’s something that doesn’t work. With Unbroken, Angelina Jolie takes the helm in her second film as director after the critically panned, In the Land of Blood and Honey.
Unbroken, is based on the true-life story of former Olympic runner Louis Zamperini who spent two-and-a-half years as a prisoner of war during World War II. The film has a cast of mainly young, developing actors with Jack O’ Connell, Domnhall Gleeson, Garrett Hedlund, Jai Courtney and Japanese pop-star Miyavi. Unbroken is a hit and miss and more of a miss than a hit. Unbroken stars off well, giving a look into Zamperini’s childhood and how he became one of the best Olympic athletes in the world as well as keeping World War II story connected, but the film that fails to follow through and be truly compelling.
The screenplay adapted from Laura Hillenbrand book and written by Richard LaGravense, William Nicholson and the Coen Brothers fails to properly develop Zamperini, the protagonist and towards the latter half the film fades into a story of torture rather than being an engaging war story. Zamprini feels more like a punching bag than a protagonist. The acting is actually very good, Jack O’ Connell gives a very good, emotional performance as Zamperini, Domnhall Gleeson and Garrett Hedlund also do well in their supporting capacity. I personally found Miyavi’s performance quite disappointing as the Japanese corporal Watanabe, the antagonist. He feels miscast and the performance doesn’t really stick. The movie is a perfectly respectable attempt, it’s competently directed, well acted, the cinematography from Roger Deakins is excellent but the film lacks the bite of being an impressive movie.
All in all, Unbroken is an okay movie that could have been a lot better. Jack O’ Connell is very good as Louis Zamperini and Angelina Jolie does well in her second film as director but ultimately the film fails to materialize into something important.