‘Unbroken’ Reviews Are Good, But Not Quite Great

Reviews for Angelina Jolie’s sophomore directorial film, Unbroken, are in, and they will likely be damning with their faint praise. Peppered with words like “starchy,” “respectful,” and “dutiful.” The Wrap calls the film “riveting, but somewhat generic,” while ABC News is even clearer.

“‘Unbroken’ is an incredible story. It is not an incredible movie.”

Unbroken is the story of Louis Zamperini, a WWII veteran, Olympian, first generation Italian-American, and survivor of a Japanese POW camp. The general consensus of reviews is that the movie starts out well, showing Zamperini and two fellow soldiers as their B24 battalion is shot out of the sky over the Pacific. From there, the movie begins to incorporate flashbacks, to show the life Zamperini led before the war. Most reviews cite something similar to what Roderigo Perez points out at Indie Wire

“It’s not so much that this structure doesn’t work so much as it’s abandoned after the key bullet-points of Zamperini’s life are established.”

The critics on Twitter, however, have been more generous. Since the movie released on Christmas Day, Unbroken reviews have largely been positive.

Unbroken stars Jack O’Connell as Zamperini, and features Domhnall Gleeson and Finn Wittrock as Zamperini’s fellow airmen when the B24 goes down. The movie was based on the bestselling book by Laura Hillenbrand of Seabiscuit fame, and scriptwriting credits go to Joel and Ethan Coen.

Of course, this is hardly the first time in the history of film that reviews from critics and fans have diverged. Unbroken has done very well at the box office so far; while the third installment of The Hobbit has kept its lead spot, Unbroken handily beat Into The Woods for box office glory. And the Washington Post sums up the film in its review.

“One can’t help but wish that ‘Unbroken’ was a bit less reverent about its subject. Sourness for the sake of sourness isn’t what’s needed here. ‘Unbroken’ may not exactly be mired in sanctimony, but it’s standing, almost up to its ankles, in an unhealthy sense that its subject — about whose simple humanity the film otherwise goes to great lengths to illuminate — is a candidate for sainthood.”

Enough people seem excited about the movie that it is likely to continue to do well, no matter what the reviewers say.

Do you have an Unbroken review to share in the comments?