Sunday, May 26, 2024

First Look: Angelina Jolie’s “Unbroken” Joins the Oscar Race Big Time


Angelina Jolie’s second feature film as a director is a success. Unbroken, the story of real life Olympic hero and World War II star Louie Zamperini, isn’t perfect. But it’s a huge accomplishment that will attract a huge audience and lots of nominations. Main actor Jack O’Connell becomes an overnight sensation. There will also be lots of love for costars Domhall Gleason, Finn Wittrock, and Garrett Hedlund. Roger Deakins, as usual, shows he’s a master of cinematography.

Four major screenwriters wrestled this difficult story to the ground.  Sometimes their disparate voices show up  to different effect in the film’s at times uneven pace. Bu the whole thing works in the end.  There may be a bit of a hard sell on some points. This is a war movie, not Chariots of Fire.  There are some rough torture scenes of the US soldiers at the hands of their Japanese captors. But the edit I saw handled them pretty well.

Squeamish audience members will only have to look away a couple of times.  Those scenes are outweighed by some amazing aerial sequences, and Jolie’s extremely sure handling of Zamperini and fellow soldiers during their Olympic near death drift in a lifeboat on the Pacific Ocean.

One last word for now: some fans of the book worried that Zamperini’s religious beliefs would be diluted. They are not. Faith in god is clearly what got him through his ordeal.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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