UNBROKEN

Overall Rating

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Leans strongly toward a biblical worldview


Ranking Categories:
Overall Faith and/or Biblical Relevance 4.0stars.png
Faith-compatible Depiction of Characters and Character Relationships 4.0stars.png
Faith-compatible Depiction of Situations 4.0stars.png
Family Viewing Suitability 3.5stars.png
Entertainment Value 4.5stars.png
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Summary

Based on Laura Hillenbrand’s 2010 book, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, UNBROKEN tells the true story of Olympic athlete Louis “Louie” Zamperini, an American hero who endured and overcame horrific circumstances leading up to—and during—his two years as a Japanese prisoner of war during World War II.

Produced and directed by Angelina Jolie (LARA CROFT: TOMB RAIDER, MR. AND MRS. SMITH, MALEFICENT) and starring Jack O’Connell (300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE) as Zamperini, Finn Wittrock (“All My Children,” NOAH) as “Mac” McNamara, Domhnall Gleeson (HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS I & II) as “Phil” Phillips, and Takamasa Ishihara as Matsushiro (“The Bird”) Watanabe, UNBROKEN is a powerful, raw and emotionally riveting film that will leave Faith Driven Consumers at once inspired, humbled and proud to be American.


Overall Faith and/or Biblical Relevance

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UNBROKEN covers Zamperini’s life from his days as a bullied and somewhat delinquent youth, to his years as an elite-level runner competing for the United States in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, and on through his heart-wrenching and amazing story of perseverance as an army airman in World War II—during which his plane crashed and he survived on a raft in the Pacific for 47 days before being captured by the Japanese and forced to heroically endure brutal treatment in a series of internment camps.

While UNBROKEN ends with Zamperini’s return to America after the war and joyful reunion with his family, Jolie and the screenwriters do not minimize the faith angle to his life—clearly weaving into the story the foundation for what will later become Zamperini’s mighty testimony of service to God as a committed Christian. Here, UNBROKEN, depicts the influence of the Zamperini family’s Catholic faith, Louie and other soldiers asking The Big Questions as they wrestle with God’s purpose in the midst of incomprehensible trials and tribulations, and Zamperini’s promise to serve God if He spares his life. Under Jolie’s sensitive, focused and nuanced direction, God’s sovereign hand is clearly upon Zamperini and biblical themes of hard work, perseverance, overcoming adversity, familial love, forgiveness, reconciliation and Christ-like self-sacrifice are unmistakably present throughout UNBROKEN.       


Faith-compatible Depiction of Characters and Character Relationships

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The Bible is filled with the stories of flawed people who at times question their faith and struggle to find God in their circumstances, yet glorify God by overcoming the trials and tribulations put before them—as a result of living in a fallen world—ultimately declaring that good  triumphs over evil and self-sacrificing love defeats death.  Similarly, UNBROKEN depicts Zamperini and his fellow American soldiers courageously stepping up to the plate to do their part in the battle against tyrannical forces while enduring—and overcoming—brutal treatment at the hands of the Japanese until the war is finally won and good has triumphed over evil.  Here, UNBROKEN reflects not only Zamperini’s loss of innocence and trial by fire, but America’s as well.

Strong themes of biblical family and brotherhood are depicted in UNBROKEN, with Louie’s mother and father shown to be loving and committed to one another, their children and their faith. The children honor and respect their parents, and Louie’s relationship with his older brother Pete, who encourages him at every step, is particularly poignant. And the loyal and battle-tested camaraderie shown between Louie, Mac, Phil and other soldiers and prisoners of war is a core element of the film and rings true to the biblical call to brotherhood and self-sacrifice.


Faith-compatible Depiction of Situations

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Just like many narratives in the Bible are gritty, raw and even horrific, UNBROKEN points to the spiritual and physical reality that there is an enemy that comes to kill, steal and destroy, and sometimes bullies must be stood up to. As a youth, Zamperini is beaten up and teased for being Italian and must learn to stand up, fight back and defend himself. He gets into trouble along the way, but with the loving guidance of older brother Pete learns the discipline and perseverance that comes with developing into a world class miler—traits that would serve him well as an airman and prisoner of war.

While there are some intense and emotionally riveting scenes involving air fights, the crash landing of Louie’s plane on a Pacific island, another plane plummeting into the ocean, Louie’s 47 days adrift at sea with Phil and Mac, and his subsequent two years of brutal treatment and conditions in a Japanese detention camp, each scene is depicted respectfully and in a way that is both realistic and faith-compatible. Indeed, two of the most moving scenes are Louie’s Christ-like, substitutionary self-sacrifice on behalf of a fellow soldier who is being beaten and his relationship with the sadistic Imperial Japanese army corporal, Watanabe, who subjects Zamperini to the torture of carrying a cross-like beam for hours—evoking Mel Gibson’s depiction of Jesus’ suffering of Jesus in THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST.


Family Viewing Suitability

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With its PG-13 rating for war violence including intense sequences of brutality and for brief, mild language among soldiers, UNBROKEN is suitable for teens with adult supervision and up. And in the context of Louie’s experience as a prisoner of war, there is some male nudity, none of which is gratuitous or unrealistic.

Beyond these cautions, however, there are many good and important values communicated in UNBROKEN that teens and up will appreciate. For example, Pete teaches Louie that “a moment of pain is worth a lifetime of glory” and “if you can take it, you can make it”—reflecting biblical values of perseverance and resilience that are commendable. 


Entertainment Value

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At 137 minutes in length, UNBROKEN tells the true story of an heroic American who bravely perseveres through one unimaginable tribulation to the next—with a nascent faith being forged in the process—allowing the viewer a powerfully raw and riveting look into the heart, mind and soul of The Greatest Generation in American history. Jolie’s direction is superb and the acting is uniformly outstanding. Production values are very high with track and battle scenes that are stirring, sweeping and driven by the hand of Providence. And the excruciating treatment endured by American and Allied prisoners of war in the Japanese detention camps beg the question:  who in this generation is able to stand up and fight for freedom in the face of an unimaginable trial like Zamperini and so many in his generation did 70 years ago? 


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