A faultlessly modulated performance from O’Connell holds together a film of imbalanced fragments.
Lifeless dramatisation of Zamperini’s childhood suffers in comparison to better realised scenes of his wartime experience. In documenting physical deterioration, malnourishment and injury, the film’s authenticity is commendable; make-up and prosthetics render O’Connell and Gleeson transformed men.
Acting is nuanced and subtle, with Takamasa Ishihara standing out for his chilling turn as the POW camp’s Commanding Officer, a character with an intriguing response to Zamperini which might have been probed further.
Glaring continuity errors and a tedious runtime swollen with excessive scene-setting footage diminishes the overall achievement.
Though excelling with casting, Jolie’s direction falls short in style and execution; cheesy dissolves and trite biopic techniques are distractingly formulaic, fracturing absorption with Unbroken’s brutal and shocking content.
CAST: Jack O’Connell, Domhnall Gleeson, Garrett Hedlund, Takamasa Ishihara
DIRECTOR: Angelina Jolie
WRITERS: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, Richard LaGravenese and William Nicholson (screenplay) and Laura Hillenbrand (book)
SYNOPSIS: The tale of Olympian Louis Zamperini’s experiences in World War II; a near-fatal plane crash, followed by 47 days stranded at sea and imprisonment in Japanese prisoner-of-war camps.