By Emma Kessler
Jack O’Connell delivered a riveting performance as Louis Zamperini in the war biopic, Unbroken directed by Angelina Jolie. The movie is a fight from the opening to the credits. This was Jolie’s second film that she has directed, and it came together seamlessly.
Unbroken opens with a pre-adolescent Louis who gets into all kinds of trouble, going so far as to paint a milk bottle white and filling it with alcohol. He does not think he’s very good at anything and is made fun of by the neighborhood kids because of his Italian heritage. Early in the movie, Louis’ older brother Pete sees him running from the neighborhood bullies and thinks he has the potential to become a good runner. He begins to train him and before long, Louis is a runner to be contested with.
In 1936 he went to the Olympics at only 19 years old. However, this major feat was only a small part of Louis life and a small part of the film, as he later became a fighter. In Unbroken, O’Connell was challenged to play a person who lived many different lives. The majority of the movie focused on his time as a prisoner of war in Japan during World War II. While in the camp he meets another major character, Watanabe, played brilliantly by Takamasa Ishihara.
Ishihara’s character is a ruthless tyrant at the camp who, at the same time, attempts to have a human side. He wrongly assumes that he and Louis have become friends due to their resilient nature and will to live, but the two characters are undeniably foils. Watanabe beats up on Louis but despite this, he gets back up every time and keeps going. Not long after Watanabe is moved to another camp, as is Louis, and it just so happens to be the same camp; irony added flawlessly into the film.
Jolie transferred the pain and joy felt throughout the movie through O’Connell to the audience. When he was in the Olympics the audience was on the edge of their seats, and when he was crashing in a plane, or being in a camp, and being forced to hold a piece of marble over his head, it was impossible not to root for him.
It was a huge and unfair disappointment that Unbroken was not nominated for an Academy Award. O’Connell had a masterful performance despite his little known background and Jolie proved to be a skillful direction despite being a somewhat inexperienced director.