Unbroken

Metascore
59

Mixed or average reviews - based on 48 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 48
  2. Negative: 1 out of 48
Watch On
  1. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Dec 22, 2014
    100
    When you get through it, though, you can’t help but feel uplifted by this tough-skinned movie that can stand with the best muscular wartime dramas in the American movie canon.
  2. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Dec 17, 2014
    100
    Put this one at the top of your must-see list. Angelina Jolie might not, in my opinion, have yet reached the heights of the acting profession, but with this passionate, inspired, technically awesome and profoundly exciting chronicle of the life of Louie Zamperini, she rises to the top rank of first-class film directors in a male-dominated field overcrowded with hacks.
  3. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Dec 27, 2014
    88
    If you can take it, Unbroken will lift you like the classics of adventure cinema.
  4. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Dec 24, 2014
    88
    Jolie has an army of craftsmen in her corner, notably camera poet Roger Deakins (No Country for Old Men). But it's her vision that gives Unbroken a spirit that soars. In honoring Louis' endurance, she does herself proud.
  5. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Dec 23, 2014
    83
    There is a genuinely epic quality to Unbroken, cribbed from masters and capably traced. That's really all this inspiring story needs.
  6. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Dec 30, 2014
    80
    If the Unbroken needle stops at Impressive and doesn’t quite rise to Enthralling, it’s because Jolie stints on exploring the doubts that tortured Louis nearly as much as Watanabe’s punishments did, and whose details so enriched Hillenbrand’s biography.
  7. Reviewed by: Kate Stables
    Dec 1, 2014
    80
    Jack O’Connell’s, wiry, indefatigable Zamperini holds your attention without effort.
  8. Reviewed by: Alonso Duralde
    Dec 1, 2014
    77
    Ultimately, the strengths of Unbroken far outweigh its flaws.
  9. Reviewed by: Michael O'Sullivan
    Dec 23, 2014
    75
    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.
  10. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Dec 23, 2014
    75
    Jolie's account is mostly accurate but coldly clinical. The story is effective in relaying Zamperini's narrative but lacks both the gut punch one often gets from prisoner-of-war narratives and the full catharsis one expects at the end.
  11. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Dec 1, 2014
    75
    Jolie keeps the narrative afloat thanks to first-rate craftsmanship, a few well-honed moments of bonafide suspense, and a terrifically restrained Jack O'Connell in the lead role. While it only hints at the sweeping epic that never fully materializes, Unbroken offers further proof that Jolie's directorial instincts pass muster alongside her other talents.
  12. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Dec 27, 2014
    70
    A rousing old-fashioned yarn with numerous exciting set-pieces and an uncomplicated hero you root for all the way through. It’s entertaining throughout and made with a high level of technical skill. If made 40 years ago, it would have been a leading Oscar contender and a huge hit, whereas today it’s a bit “meh” in both categories
  13. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Dec 23, 2014
    70
    It is a harrowing journey, and an inspirational one. But, as director, Jolie takes far too long to tell it, particularly in such a conventional manner.
  14. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Dec 1, 2014
    70
    A great true story is telescoped down to a merely good one in Unbroken. After a dynamite first half-hour, Angelina Jolie's accomplished second outing as a director slowly looses steam.
  15. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Dec 24, 2014
    67
    Zamperini’s life story is genuinely inspirational, but the movie seems fashioned as a standard-issue profile in courage, with Zamperini, after a troubled youth, transformed into an almost saintlike figure. He would have been every bit as inspirational, even more so, without the halo.
  16. Reviewed by: Chris Nashawaty
    Dec 17, 2014
    67
    It's moving, admirable, and occasionally exhilarating. What it's missing is the one thing that could always be counted on with Jolie as a star: the spark of danger.
  17. Reviewed by: Drew McWeeny
    Dec 2, 2014
    67
    When it comes to this particular story, I find myself unconvinced in the end. Unbroken looks like the real thing, but evaporates upon closer scrutiny.
  18. Reviewed by: Brian Tallerico
    Dec 24, 2014
    63
    It’s one of those inspirational Hollywood dramas about which there isn’t anything "overtly wrong" with it. It’s well-cast, it looks great, it has that intense centerpiece in the raft, and it certainly conveys a true story worth telling. And yet I keep coming back to that beautiful sunrise that opens the film. It’s just too damn pretty.
  19. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Dec 24, 2014
    63
    Unbroken stirs a moviegoer by default; it’s an astounding story of human endurance that has been brought a little too safely to the screen.
  20. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Dec 23, 2014
    63
    As directed by Angelina Jolie, it is occasionally powerful, with soaring visuals. It also is, however, stately and slow to the point of tedium.
  21. Reviewed by: Liam Lacey
    Dec 23, 2014
    63
    A beautifully shot, well-acted, and worthy-to-a-fault Second World War survivor story that only intermittently achieves the kind of emotional impact for which it aims.
  22. Reviewed by: Connie Ogle
    Dec 23, 2014
    63
    The bigger problem is that neither Jolie nor the script bothers to flesh Louis out as a fully formed person with faults and fears and regrets, which keeps the film from ever capturing you emotionally.
  23. Reviewed by: Richard Roeper
    Dec 22, 2014
    63
    Unbroken is an ambitious, sometimes moving film that suffers from a little too much self-conscious nobility, and far too many scenes of sadistic brutality.
  24. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Dec 22, 2014
    63
    Rightly, Jolie didn't want to tell the man's entire life story. But as is, at too-convenient dramatic junctures, the screenplay darts back into flashbacks of Zamperini's childhood or young adulthood, when we should really be sticking with the crisis at hand.
  25. Reviewed by: R. Kurt Osenlund
    Dec 16, 2014
    63
    The film's chief misstep is taking its title too literally, and ultimately depicting Louie as an indestructible, and thus largely inhuman, superhero.
  26. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Dec 24, 2014
    60
    What the movie ends up in desperate need of is a sense of life made real and palpable through dreadful, transporting details, not a life embalmed in hagiographic awe.
  27. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Dec 24, 2014
    60
    With what we see on screen weighted too much toward pain and too little toward redemption, this is a film we respect more than love, and that is something of a wasted opportunity.
  28. 60
    Jolie gets the dirty/ennobling job done. If the narrative is finally unsatisfying, it’s because the last vital chapter — the way in which Zamperini was able to have a life after years of unspeakable cruelty and the dashing of his Olympic hopes — is signaled in a couple of title cards before the closing credits. Unbroken proves that Zamperini could take it and make it — but make what of it?
  29. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Dec 22, 2014
    60
    As glossy and well-produced as Unbroken is, it doesn't stray too terribly far from Hollywood convention. In fact, its very story structure is so traditional that it's mirrored by Clint Eastwood's "American Sniper."
  30. Reviewed by: Cath Clarke
    Dec 1, 2014
    60
    Jolie has assembled an A-list team – Roger Deakins behind the camera, the Coen brothers in charge of the script - but while her film is perfectly competent, it hardly dazzles.
  31. Reviewed by: Ian Nathan
    Dec 1, 2014
    60
    Lavish and sporadically powerful, Jolie's POW biopic may have just enough gravity to entice the Academy, but struggles to bring truth to an unbelievable truth.
  32. Reviewed by: Andrew Pulver
    Dec 1, 2014
    60
    Though high-minded and well-intentioned – as well as being conceived on an epic scale – there’s something faintly stodgy and safety-first about the endeavour.
  33. Reviewed by: Lawrence Toppman
    Dec 27, 2014
    50
    We don’t see his alcoholism and post-traumatic stress disorder after coming home, the decay of his marriage, the vengeful hatred that led him to strangle his captors in his nightmares. Nor do we see his conversion to Christianity after a 1949 Billy Graham crusade in Los Angeles, an event he credited with saving his sanity, marriage and perhaps his life.
  34. Reviewed by: Jeff Baker
    Dec 27, 2014
    50
    Those who watch Unbroken, Angelina Jolie's movie about Zamperini's life, only have to suffer for a little more than two hours, but it's a cruel and unusually harsh punishment.
  35. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Dec 24, 2014
    50
    The title isn’t “Broken,” so there’s not much doubt of the outcome. But it’s certainly regrettable, because this long and increasingly sluggish film version of the Laura Hillenbrand book celebrates an American life of singular heroism.
  36. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Dec 23, 2014
    50
    One of these days, Angelina Jolie might very well direct a great movie. She has a rare talent and intense concerns and interests. But first she is going to have to suppress some self-defeating impulses that have now twice taken potentially effective films and rendered them ridiculous.
  37. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Dec 23, 2014
    50
    Unbroken, is a cinematic scrapbook, a collection of well-composed scenes practically cut and pasted from “Memphis Belle,” “Chariots of Fire,” “Life of Pi” and “The Bridge on the River Kwai.” Unlike those other films, though, Angelina Jolie’s second effort as a director is more a series of similar events than a story, and lacks an underlying message except that torture hurts.
  38. Reviewed by: Amy Nicholson
    Dec 23, 2014
    50
    Unbroken wants it all: the big cinematography, the close-up grit, the postcard flashbacks, and the grisly Götterdämmerung that earns directors awards. But it aches for a lighter touch -- the facts of Zamperini's life more than stand on their own.
  39. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    Dec 23, 2014
    50
    As Zamperini, Jack O’Connell is the film’s strongest asset. The actor holds our attention from beginning to end, making us care deeply about the man’s fate instead of becoming an empty icon of stoicism.
  40. Reviewed by: Tasha Robinson
    Dec 22, 2014
    50
    Unbroken just piles on the misery without tonal shift, any sense of rise and fall, or any interest in Zamperini’s inner life, beyond his catchphrase, “If you can take it, you can make it.”
  41. Reviewed by: Keith Uhlich
    Dec 22, 2014
    50
    Moral and spiritual triumph lie at the end of this hellish gauntlet, but though Jolie is shooting for Christ-like passion and redemption, she only ends up slathering one man’s very real, very morbid struggles in the usual reductive “greatest generation” sentiment.
  42. Reviewed by: Roger Moore
    Dec 22, 2014
    50
    Unbroken stumbles into most every movie of the genre in ways that suggest she (Jolie) hasn’t figured out how these things work. Suspense and pathos evade her as she turns an admittedly unwieldy biography into a dull, perfunctory and truncated film.
  43. Reviewed by: Rodrigo Perez
    Dec 2, 2014
    50
    Respectfully presented, Unbroken is competently made and even has a sequence or two that’s impressive, but it’s ultimately very familiar and eventually draining.
  44. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Dec 1, 2014
    50
    A bit embalmed in its own nobility, it’s an extraordinary story told in dutiful, unexceptional terms, the passionate commitment of all involved rarely achieving gut-level impact.
  45. Reviewed by: Joe Walsh
    Dec 24, 2014
    40
    With Unbroken, Jolie fails to captures Zamperini's life, and she focuses too much of what he endured and how he survived such suffering, crafting a lacklustre and dull film about an incredibly remarkable man.
  46. Reviewed by: David Denby
    Dec 22, 2014
    40
    An interminable, redundant, unnecessary epic devoted to suffering, suffering, suffering.
  47. Reviewed by: Tim Robey
    Dec 1, 2014
    40
    The film settles into a Forrest Gumpian groove that doesn’t glorify the human spirit so much as sap it.
  48. Reviewed by: David Hiltbrand
    Dec 27, 2014
    38
    Unbroken is a grueling endurance test - for the audience just as much as for its cutout champion.
User Score
6.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 218 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 32 out of 66
  2. Negative: 10 out of 66
  1. Dec 25, 2014
    10
    It's handsomely mounted, well-cast, it looks so great . and it certainly conveys a true story worth telling. cinematographer Roger Deakins isIt's handsomely mounted, well-cast, it looks so great . and it certainly conveys a true story worth telling. cinematographer Roger Deakins is exellent. Full Review »
  2. Dec 30, 2014
    5
    While a worthy stand alone movie, because we know the book and this man's life story, we also know that the movie, by focusing primarily onWhile a worthy stand alone movie, because we know the book and this man's life story, we also know that the movie, by focusing primarily on survival in a life raft and survival as a POW, misses what "Unbroken" was about. It is a story of strength and weakness of character, of the people who influence our lives, of falling and redemption and falling and redemption.

    After surviving the war, Louie begins on a path of drunken ruin when he chances upon a revival tent where Billy Graham, a legendary preacher, is giving a sermon. This sermon starts his recovery from the war and alcoholism and culminates with Louie's trip to Japan to forgive his guards. The "Bird" refuses to see him. That is the end of the movie, Louie's personal growth to become a better person and the "Bird" being trapped in the bitterness of what his life became.

    I don't know anything about Billy Graham and can only imagine how powerfully that scene could have been filmed. What cinematic potential! Then watching Louie transform into the man he was to become culminating in the trip to Japan. I am still mourning the loss. What a wasted opportunity.

    I would truly like to understand why Angelina Jolie or why the studio committee didn't take this on. Were they afraid of appearing to promote religion? Did they think it would scare away movie viewers? Were they afraid of what others in their community would say about them? Who fought to make this movie properly and who caved in?

    Any attempt to say the movie would have been too long is a canard. The time on the raft and scenes in the POW camp were excessive, many not adding to the story. The ending was fabricated to add drama. It's almost like the decision to end the film with the war's end was made later rather than upfront and they had to puff it up to get to a reasonable run time.

    Personally in my opinion had they not chickened out, the film would have at a minimum qualified for a Best Picture nomination. How many times in a lifetime do opportunities like this come along?
    Full Review »
  3. Dec 27, 2014
    9
    I have to wonder if the critics were shown a different film? Or is this just the annual SLAM Angelina Jolie event. Any real negatives on thisI have to wonder if the critics were shown a different film? Or is this just the annual SLAM Angelina Jolie event. Any real negatives on this piece are down to the screenwriters . all four of them. IMO it is a stunning and top-notch film! Full Review »