**1/2 stars out of ****
It’s never ideal to read a book before seeing its movie adaptation. No matter how much one tries to view the two as completely separate entities, memories of the book always surface, especially if it’s a great book. Angelina Jolie’s film Unbroken is a respectable, middlebrow, occasionally powerful adaptation of Laura Hillenbrand’s excellent book of the same name. Those who’ve never read the source material will probably like the film a lot more than those who have.
The movie tells the real-life story of Louie Zamperini (Jack O’Connell), who ran in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. In World War II, he was stranded at sea for 45 days after his plane crashed in the Pacific. His eventual “rescue” came at the hands of the Japanese, who tortured him relentlessly for years.
The film’s biggest flaw is that there’s no third act. It’s torture-torture-torture-rescue-yay-end. The book details the challenges Zamperini and the other POWs had in re-entering society, as did this year’s little-seen (but worthwhile) Colin Firth film The Railway Man. The torture scenes in the POW camp grow repetitive, and some of that screen time could have been devoted to the mental horrors those tortures caused the men.
If you haven’t read the book, you’ll likely enjoy the film. But be sure and read the book, too.