unbroken: path to redemption

★★★

DIRECTOR: harold cronk (god's not dead)
STARRING: samuel caleb hunt, merrit patterson, bobby campo, and bob gunton

 

REVIEWER: lyall carter

Haunted by nightmares of his horrific experiences, World War II hero Louis Zamperini meets Cynthia Applewhite, a young woman who becomes his wife. Zamperini's personal demons soon threaten to destroy his marriage -- until he hears the stirring words of the Rev. Billy Graham in 1949. Embracing his newfound Christian faith, Louis starts to turn his life around by learning to forgive his former oppressors and spreading the message of peace and love.

At the end of Angelina Jolie's 2014 Unbroken you could tell that there was so much more to the story of Olympic runner and WWII veteran Louis Zamperini. Unbroken: Path to Redemption picks up the story where Jolie's film finished and for the most part it works pretty well. 

Haunted by nightmares of his torment at the hand of 'The Bird' in a Japanese POW camp, Louis sees himself as anything but a hero upon his return home. After meeting and marrying Cynthia, Louis attempts to train for the upcoming London Olympics but tragedy hampers his efforts. Out of work and drinking to numb the nightmares, Zamperini finds hope at a Billy Graham crusade. 

Unbroken: Path to Redemption sensitively tackles some big subjects: the effects of PTSD on the individual and their community, the cost of being perceived as a 'hero', and the power of forgiveness. It really is a compelling tale made even more extraordinary that it was all lived out by flesh and blood human beings.

 

The beginning and end of Unbroken: Path to Redemption narratively works really well but its in the middle that it comes unstuck, becoming a little directionless and treading over subject matter that has already been explored. 

Zamperini did become a born again Christian and the exploration of that event in his life may be uncomfortable viewing for those who don't share that particular faith. But the film makers generally resist making it cheesy or completely over the top. 

The temptation with a film with this kind of subject matter is to 'over act'; to make it overly dramatic. But the actors resist and all give great performances throughout. 

Even though its a little weak in the middle, Unbroken: Path to Redemption is a great film that shows us all the power of forgiveness. 

★★★

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Unbroken: Path to Redemption is available on DVD and digital from all good disc and digital retailers. 

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