Unbroken was exactly what the trailer said it was. A story of a man who suffered repeatedly from things that would have broken other people and who endured through sheer force of will. It was what you see in the trailer…and nothing more.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a powerful and compelling story. It’s an inspiring story in many ways. It’s a competently done movie. But I can’t praise it any more than that. It doesn’t show the inner workings of our main character’s mind, it doesn’t go into much depth on the primary antagonist (and there are a lot of questions there), and it doesn’t give more than the most cursory view of the atrocities committed by the Japanese during WWII (what you’ll see in horrific levels of torture, but trust me if you read history you know this is nothing compared to what went on in Nanking). Probably my greatest critique is that this didn’t really instill me with a desire to find out more by reading the book.
It is what it is.
The story of Louie Zamperini is an inspiring one. It shows what human beings can endure through will (and possibly faith, the movie doesn’t really get into this). But there is not much beyond that. What depth might have been gleaned from covering his life through alcoholism toward finding God again is simply covered in one title card at the end.
Further while there is a valid modern argument to be made about how what you see in this film is real torture (and this is just the tip of the iceberg of what the Japanese did) compared to dunking a person’s head underwater with a doctor and medical equipment nearby to get them to talk as quickly as possible with as little pain as possible. One is torture, one is not. This movie shows that the point of torture is to inflict pain for the sake of pain, not to get quick and reliable intel…but no such discussion was actually brought up in the film, you merely have to infer this on your own.
The movie is good. It’s just not great.
Four out of five.