UNBROKEN – Rated PG-13

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Director Angelina Jolie and the incomparable screenplay writers Joel and Ethan Coen (THE BIG LEBOWSKI, FARGO, TRUE GRIT), bring to the big screen the real-life story of WWII Vet and Olympic Runner Louis Zamperini , with the much-anticipated Christmas release of UNBROKEN.

As we meet a younger Zamperini (CJ Valleroy / Jack O’Connell), he is always in some kind of mess getting in trouble at every turn. Enter big brother Pete (John D’Leo/Alex Russell), who convinces Louis to start running track, as he is faster than anyone he knows presently running on their track team.

Louis is so fast, that he ends up running track for the United States in the Olympics, but this accomplishment is short lived, when he enters the Navy in WWII.

When his plane goes down in the pacific during the war – Zamperini and three of his comrades survive – only to be lost at sea for 47 days. By the grace of God they are finally rescued before they perish, but maybe not, as they are pulled from the sea by the Japanese.

Now, thrown into a Japanese war camp, Louis must face the perils of war, and the constant torture he must endure at the hands of his captors. Still as bound and determined to never let anyone get the best of him, just like he was as a child, Louis focuses on nothing but his ultimate goal…returning home to his loving Italian family….

I give UNBROKEN a B+: First off, I must share that even though this film is rated PG-13, the graphic violence that plays out in the prisoner-of-war camps is a significant amount of this film – so please don’t take younger children to see it – as it is really NOT FOR THEM! I find myself also very surprised by the snub of the GOLDEN GLOBES in not nominating JACK O’CONNELL for the best actor category this year, as his portrayal of Louis Zamperini is absolutely worthy of such a nod as he is phenomenal! And in her third attempt at Directing, I would have thought Jolie would be worthy of a nomination for best Director as well, as this real-life story was intensely moving and electrifying the whole way through. Plus, there weren’t many films this year that I saw that are as real and cinematically gripping as UNBROKEN either, which just seems sad. And even though graphic WWII war films aren’t usually my cup-of-tea, unless I am trying to appease my hubby in seeing a film of his choice, I must say that UNBROKEN is right up there with the best in WWII films that I have personally EVER SEEN – maybe it’s the fact that it’s a TRUE STORY, maybe it’s the fact that O’CONNELL’s portrayal with so incredible, maybe it was just the fact that from the time I saw the trailer of this film months ago, I knew I wanted to see it …bottom line is, I think that if you love war films, or stories of real men who lives are a part of the history of our great nation, or you are just like me and the trailer had you from the very first scene, UNBROKEN is one of the films that is a definite MUST SEE this holiday season.

Kathy Kaiser