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Unbroken

Graham Eley

Here’s one for flag-wavering, bible-bashing patriots from the ‘Land of the Free’ who demand that the Oscars are little more than a patronising tribute to their homeland and its ideology.

 

And, yet, it has a breathtaking opening scene par excellence that throws us into the action aboard a B-24 bomber, with Roger Deakins performing the kind of cinematographic gymnastics to match last year’s ‘Gravity’ before the film – like the fighter plane itself – nosedives.

 

It’s Angelina Jolie’s second feature in the director’s chair, being not only a celebration of real life multiple hero, Louie Zamperini, but of genre filmmaking, and WW2 action movies in particular, leaving us to count the clichés and familiar conventions as the film becomes an unintentional but inevitable parody of itself.

 

Flashbacks of Zamperini overcoming a troubled childhood to run in the 1936 Olympics is filmmaking by numbers.

 

Prolonged and tedious scenes of his 47 days adrift on the Pacific Ocean suffer in comparison to J.C. Chandor’s outstanding survival movie, ‘All Is Lost’, with a ‘Jaws’ moment being the film’s lowest point.

 

And Zamperini’s torture at the hands of the Japanese drifts too close to racial stereotyping for comfort but, otherwise, is reasonably well handled.

 

Rising star, Jack O’Connell, makes the most of a tired script – astonishingly, co-written by the Coens – but has less scope to shine in the lead role than with the excellent ‘Starred Up’ and ’71’.

 

And there’s an eye catching performance from Miyavi as a sadistic POW commander, ‘The Bird’, who responds to guilt with increasingly more demented acts.

 

Ultimately, though, this was never going to work without Jolie transcending the genre.
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  • Year: 2014
  • Country: USA
  • Filmmaker: Angelina Jolie
  • Screenwriter: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, Richard LaGravenese and William Nicholson
  • Producer: Matthew Baer, Angelina Jolie, Erwin Stoff and Clayton Townsend
  • Cinematographer: Roger Deakins
  • Editor: William Goldenberg and Tim Squyres
  • Cast: Jack O’Connell, Takamasa Ishihara (Miyavi), Domhnall Gleeson, Garrett Hedlund and Matthew Crocker
  • Duration: 137 mins
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