Angelina Jolie was destined to be involved in movies. Daughter to the legendary Academy Award winning, John Voight (National Treasure, Transformers, The Manchurian Candidate), and actress/producer, Marcheline Bertrand (The Man Who Loved Women), Jolie has appeared on the screen since debuting along side her father in Lookin’ to Get Out, when she was only six-years-old. Since then, audiences have been graced with her stunning presence in almost 40 movies.
Adapted for the screen by the illustrious Coen brothers (Joel and Ethan – True Grit, Burn After Reading, Fargo), and based on the 2010 book by Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken is Academy Award winning Jolie’s, directorial debut. This epic biographical, emotional roller coaster ride of Olympic athlete, Louis “Louie” Zamperini, shows us the limitless boundaries of the human spirit, and the resilience some men can have in times of great adversity.
Louie’s story takes us on an extraordinary journey through his life, from his childhood as an Italian-American boy in Torrance, California, through to his time confined within a Japanese prisoner of war camp during WWII. A trouble-maker in his youth, Louie was always getting into strife, and was regularly caught stealing, drinking and smoking. His brother, Peter, notices some potential in his running ability one day, and decides to train him in distance running to see if he can build on his natural gift. Taking to it like a duck to water, Louie earns the nickname “The Torrance Tornado,” eventually qualifying for the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany.
Jack O’Connell (Skins, 300: Rise of an Empire, The Liability), is magnificent as Louie. His award winning performance lifts the production to another level portraying the lead role with respect, and integrity. Other cast members include: Domhnall Gleeson (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Ex Machina, About Time), as Russell “Phil” Phillips; Garrett Hedlund (Inside Llewyn Davis, Country Strong, Tron: Legacy), as John Fitzgerald; Miyavi (Japanese superstar singer-songwriter, guitarist and record producer), as Mutsuhiro “The Bird” Watanabe; and our very own, Jai Courtney (The Water Diviner, Divergent, A Good Day to Die Hard), as Charlton Hugh “Cup” Cupernell.
The high production quality, coupled with Jolie’s choice of talented, yet under exposed cast, is certainly worthy of its recent American Film Institute and Screen Actors Guild Awards. A regular contributor to the Coen brothers’ productions, Roger Deakins’ (True Grit, No Country for Old Men, Fargo) cinematography work is sensational, and definitely worthy of its 2015 Academy Award nomination.
If you like Unbroken, you might also like: Zulu (1964), Gallipoli (1981), The Lighthorsemen (1987), Australia (2008), War Horse (2011), The Water Diviner (2014).
The Movie Lad rates this: Four and a half out of a possible five whacks in the face with a big stick.