Starring Jack O’Connell, Domhnall Gleeson, and Miyavi
Directed by Angelina Jolie, based on the novel by Laura Hilldenbrand, screenplay by Joel and Ethan Cohen
IMDB Rating 7.3
Written by Rachel Geiger
This is an inspiring true story about Louis Zamperini, a USA Olympian who endured terrible circumstances. Difficult to watch, but still makes for a heartwarming movie.
The film begins with Louis Zamperini (Jack O’Connell) flying as a bombardier of a US Army Air Force bomber, in a 1943 bombing mission against a Japanese-held island. The plane is badly damaged but the pilot manages to stop it at the end of the runaway. The film then goes through Zamperini’s rocky childhood to him using running as an outlet to get somewhere. He becomes an Olympic athlete and sets a record for running the final lap of the 5000 metres race in 56 seconds. The story then returns back to present day in which the plane crashes into the ocean and Zamperini along with two others survive in a raft for 47 days before taken into a Japanese POW camp. The remainder of the movie documents their attempt to survive it.
The road to survival for Louis Zamperini isn’t an easy one to watch. I expected to see him take some beatings and general suffering but not as bad as the movie made it. His commanding officer at the camp who they referred to as “The Bird” (Miyavi) was ruthless with his beatings to the American Olympian. Although it’s an inspiring story, it seems like it takes forever to get there. Beating after beating makes you question just how much this guy can take. Even though I knew that he made it through, that didn’t make it any easier. I was still positive that he was bound to die due to the fact that he was starved. Being held at a POW camp is bad enough, but it came directly after he’d already been stranded at sea and suffered from a dramatic weight loss. Simply put, the storyline isn’t meant for the fainthearted.
I was impressed by Jack O’Connell’s performance. He portrayed the character with honesty and sincerity. It’s difficult to portray a real person especially considering that O’Connell had to perfect his American accent considering he’s actually British. This is his first starring role in a big blockbuster American film. He’s known for playing a leading role in the British teen drama Skins and the movie This Is England. This is a big step up and he really shined here. Japanese rock singer-songwriter Miyavi was terrifying as the guard who didn’t let up on his beatings. It was also taken too far, he played the role as if the reason why he went after him was because he was sexually attracted to him. Gleeson was really great with his portrayal of Phil, the crew member who survived at sea with Louis (the third one who made it to the raft died) and made it through the POW camp.
As a director, Angelina Jolie made her mark. This is her third time taking a spin at directing with her first big studio film. It’s clear that she loved Zamperini’s story and she made a movie that respected the real man. Jolie has previously stated that she enjoys directing just as much as acting because she gets to put a camera on another actor and watch them do great work. The movie isn’t easy to capture and Jolie does this extremely well.
This is a beautiful movie about the incredible story of Louis Zamperini that features stunning cinematography and realistic performances.
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