The young British actor Jack O’Connell’s biggest triumph over adversity in the torture porn epic “Unbroken” is making the audience believe he is an Italian American. Director Angelina Jolie WHAT were you thinking? I ask you. Does the above ^ picture look even remotely like an Italian? He looks Irish, if anything, and it turns out he is a through and through Brit.
So the audience has to suspend their disbelief for quite a large chunk of the early part of the movie that is receiving mixed critical reaction, and I think I know why. It’s the casting. Don’t tell me that Jolie couldn’t’ve had her pick of any of the young Italian stallions that abound States-side. But no, she has to go to England to cast this super-hot, young, working-class Brit with washboard abs. Angie, he’s CUTE, but not Italian at all! And to add insult to injury the SECOND lead in this film about WWII is played by Domhnall Gleeson, Brendan Gleeson’s son, who is IRISH!
So we’re supposed to believe that these two dive bombers who get stuck in a life-boat for 47 days, after their airplane gets shot out of the sky by the Japanese, are AMERICANS?!?
There seems to be something, well, broken about “Unbroken”, and I think it’s this. Both leads are NOT UNBELIEVABLY Americans!
As this overlong film wears on and on and on (are they NEVER to be rescued from that lifeboat?) I had to admit O’Connell, as he was beginning to suffer and starve, began to get to me.
And by the time the INCREDIBLY over-extended, over-done, over-heated second half of the film takes place in the several horrific Japanese prison camps that Louie Zamperini (yes, that’s his real name, and he was an Olympian track hero, and a real person, and 100% I.T.), O’Connell is suffering and suffering and getting punched in the face and hit and caned and starving, and being kicked and well, just about everything you can think of, and yes, it’s all true, you do begin to feel for O’Connell as an actor and how in the world did he ever endure all this, AS AN ACTOR?
This is the main problem with “Unbroken” I feel. It’s the casting and as good as O’Connell gets towards the end of the picture, you are always aware that it’s a PERFORMANCE. He doesn’t draw you in. You observe him. You admire his acting chops. When you should be feeling the tortures of the damned. Well, actually, you DO feel like you’re being tortured. I left with a headache, there was so much audience-torture going on. Who’s gonna sit through this? Masochists? Is there that big an audience for plain, unrelenting torture? In the end, he does survive, of course, to tell this tale of horror, but YOU, the viewer barely do. I left craving an Ibuprofen.
I don’t think the Academy is going to sit still for this at all, as they watch their screeners, (or should I say screamers?) of this true horror epic over the holidays.
Jolie’s work is really the great Roger Deakins’ work. The cinematography is picturesque in the classic Hollywood way, and it’s extremely beautiful. Even the torture scenes are perfectly lit and shot.
But Angelina Jolie in her sophomore directing stint, hired the cutest, hottest, masochistic young actor she could find. And he IS CUTE! Blue eyes, cheek bones, incredible physique. Jack O’Connell is clearly going to survive this debacle of a debut and go on to quite a healthy career, despite the pain and agony he has to endure in “Unbroken.”
The ones who are suffering the most are the poor audiences.There’s so much torture and so little uplift at the end, it’s really a cheat. Angelina just got fixated on the S&M of it all as Louie draws the sadistic attentions of the Japanese Prison Camp guard whom they call “The Bird”(rock singer Miyavi) hits him again and again and again.
Last year’s “The Railway Man” starring Colin Firth and an incredible Jeremy Irvine as the older and younger believably British Brit P.O.W.s in yet ANOTHER Japanese prisoner camp, were MUCH more effective, and the torture scenes were there, and were harrowing, (Irvine gets waterboarded!) Because they were a resonable length.
In “Unbroken,” the same scenes don’t work as well,because they go on for sooooo lonnnng. Same with “Bridge Over the River Kwai” the classic ’50s David Lean film this tries to emulate. Lean, who was a film editor, before he became a great director, knew when to yell “Cut!” Angelina Jolie does not.
So rent either “The Railway Man” and/or “River Kwai”, and you’ll have a much better time. “Unbroken” could break you.