DRAMA; 2hr 17min
STARRING: Jack O’Connell, Miyavi
Horsing around: Redmayne and Jones
From feckless Californian beginnings, Louis “Louie” Zamperini (a watchful, unflagging O’Connell) had a unique innings as an Olympic runner, a World War II bombardier, a life-raft survivor and a long-term Japanese prisoner of war. The exhortation of his elder brother Pete (Alex Russell) that “If you can take it, you can make it” in director Angelina Jolie’s handsome veneration of Zamperini’s life could have been Louie’s snappy mantra. He takes it and he makes it, over and over again.
Adapted from Laura Hillenbrand’s 2010 nonfiction book, Unbroken weaves back and forth in the first act, settling into a linear course when Zamperini’s US Army Air Force plane crashes into the Pacific. Of the three survivors, Zamperini is a can-do cheerleader whose moxie holds him together when, flayed to his leathery bones after 47 days adrift, he’s held captive by the Japanese. From hereon in, the MO is suffering made ravaged flesh (as Zamperini’s torturer, rock star Miyavi is a sinuous, venom-spitting Cobra). As it did with Zamperini, torment can prove to be ennobling. But bearing protracted witness to it is a trial from which Jolie’s reverential handling takes too long to sign off.