- DVD & Streaming
- Drama , War
- December 25, 2014
- Jack O'Connell as Louis Zamperini; C.J. Valleroy as Young Louis Zamperini; Domhnall Gleeson as Russell Allen 'Phil' Phillips; Finn Wittrock as Francis 'Mac' McNamara; Alex Russell as Pete Zamperini; John D'Leo as Young Pete Zamperini; Vincenzo Amato as Anthony Zamperini; Maddalena Ischiale as Louise Zamperini; Takamasa Ishihara as Mutsushiro 'The Bird' Watanabe
Home Release Date
- March 24, 2015
- Angelina Jolie
- Universal Pictures
“If you can take it, you can make it.”
Those words of exhortation come from Louis Zamperini’s older brother, Pete, when the two sons of Italian immigrants are still in high school. But it turns out Louis will need to cling to Pete’s counsel again and again throughout the excruciating trials that soon pile painfully upon him.
Bullies menace Louis in high school, resulting in fights he gets blamed for. It’s a volatile situation, especially when combined with his penchant for smoking and drinking. But Pete’s seen how fast Louis runs from teenage thugs and school administrators, so he encourages his little bro to join the track team … even offering to help him train.
Turns out Louis is fast. Really fast. As in, the fastest high school distance runner in America. Before he knows it, the so-called Torrance Tornado is competing in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, where he turns in a record time on the last lap of his race. Louis dreams of competing again in the 1940 Olympics in Tokyo. And he does make it to Tokyo … but hardly how he’d hoped.
World War II scuttles those Games, and Louis winds up as the bombardier on a B-24 Liberator in the Pacific—a plane that earned the nickname of Flying Coffin. That moniker proves prophetic when the engines on Louis’ bomber fail, prompting his friend (and the plane’s pilot) Russell “Phil” Phillips, to ditch it.
Louis, Phil and another airman named Mac are the only survivors. They lash two life rafts together … and begin marking time and praying for rescue as they strive to stave off starvation and sharks. Mac dies 33 days in. Two weeks after that—47 days after crashing in the ocean—Louis and Phil are rescued … by the Japanese.
Their rescue-turned-capture begins a two-year ordeal for Louis (who’s soon separated from Phil) in three different POW camps: one near where they’re captured, another near Tokyo and a third far to the north. In the last two camps, Louis and his fellows must endure not only the degradation of being prisoners of war, but the sadistic cruelty of Mutsushiro Watanabe, a monstrous man the Americans call “The Bird.”
Beaten and humiliated time and again over the course of two years, Louis takes refuge in memories of his mother’s prayers, his friend Phil’s faith and those powerful, guiding words of his older brother:
Encouraged by Pete, Louis becomes a disciplined runner—discipline that takes him to the Olympics and helps him endure wartime suffering. Pete also tells Louis, “A moment of pain is worth a lifetime of glory. Remember that.”
After plunging into the Pacific, Louis adopts an optimistic attitude, in contrast to Mac, who cries, “We’re gonna die!” Louis responds, “No we’re not, Mac.” Mac focuses on the worst outcome, while Louis heroically remains positive. Mac dies and Louis lives, and the only difference in their fates is apparently the mental determination Louis exhibits. Indeed, as they drift for a month and a half, Louis continually stimulates his and his companions’ hope and courage.
Still, Louis isn’t made of steel. Early on in his lengthy stay at the Ōmori Detention Camp near Tokyo, he hovers near despondency, saying, “I don’t give a d–n. Let ’em shoot me.” Another American POW counters, “We beat ’em by making it to the end of the war alive. That’s our revenge, officer.” Louis once more recalls his brother’s counsel: “If I can take it, I can make it.”
The Japanese know Louis is famous and attempt to use him for propaganda purposes by coaxing him to read a script on the radio in exchange for posh treatment (a deal some Americans had already taken). Louis refuses, and he’s returned to the general prison population, knowing what awaits.
When the war ends, Louis walks into Watanabe’s empty room. He sees a picture of his tormentor as a boy standing before a stern-looking father, and an expression of perhaps compassion or understanding comes across his face as he seems to ponder how anyone could have become so cruel.
Louis Zamperini is the youngest son of a devout Italian Catholic family. Not that he’s much interested in religion. He drinks, smokes and has an eye for the ladies. But in a moment of peril, he recalls his mother’s prayers (and we see her praying again later in the movie). He and Phil talk about faith and prayer and heaven. And we see Phil pray—taking a bit of ribbing from Louis for it.
Louis cries out to God to rescue him during a massive storm in the Pacific. “If You get me through this,” he pleads, “if you answer my prayers, I swear I’ll dedicate my whole life to You. I’ll do whatever You want. Please!” As the film ends, we’re told that Louis made good on his pledge, becoming a Christian and eventually going back to Japan to meet with his captors (though not Watanabe, who refused) in order to offer forgiveness.
In church, a priest quotes Genesis 1, a discussion that leads to the topic of Jesus’ mission to overcome darkness. He says Christ came “not to wage war on the sins of man, but to forgive them.” Jesus, he says, “smiles on sinners” and helps them “live through the darkness.”
As mentioned, Louis eyes a pretty young woman in church. He also hides under the bleachers at a track meet, looking up at the backsides of some female classmates. In a conversation about Louis’ best mile time of 4 minutes, 12 seconds, a fellow soldier quips, “I hope you’re not that fast in the sack.” We see a quick glimpse of small pinup-girl pics in an airplane. Soldiers stage a version of Cinderella at Ōmori in which they dress in drag.
Louis’ early run-ins with bullies who hit him foreshadow the awful brutalities he will experience later. In captivity, he is bludgeoned repeatedly with fists, feet and shafts. Watanabe carries a bamboo staff that he uses to throttle Louis and other POWs. Louis’ face and body are bloodied and bruised, and we see so much damage done to him that at times you wonder how anyone could survive such savagery.
As punishment for being “disrespectful,” Watanabe has every prisoner in the camp—hundreds of them—hit Louis in the face. We see and hear perhaps two dozen of those blows in what becomes a brutal, lengthy scene. After a number of hits, Louis isn’t able to stand any more, and Japanese soldiers hold him up for more. (Watanabe threatens to beat another, more severely injured man with his bamboo staff if the POWs refuse to hit Louis. And to his heroic credit, Louis urges his fellow prisoners to do what their captors demand so that no one else would be injured.) Louis is forced to hold a wooden beam on his shoulders for hours; Watanabe tells his men to shoot Louis if he drops it. He doesn’t, which prompts The Bird to beat Louis again. Finally, crumpled and unconscious, Louis is left outside (shirtless) until the next day.
Airmen are shot and bloodied and killed. Planes are blasted out of the sky. Tokyo is bombed, and we see the blanket-covered corpses of civilians lined up in rows. Louis, Phil and Mac’s life rafts are strafed by warplanes and attacked by a shark. The men suffer quite a lot while adrift in the Pacific, their skin painfully blistering. Mac dies, as noted, and his body is lowered into the water. A man carrying a bucket of coal trips and plunges off stairs to his death.
Japanese guards force Louis and Phil to strip naked and kneel. They think they’re about to be executed, but their captors pour water on them instead. (We see quite a lot of their emaciated bodies, including both men’s bare rears.)
Crude or Profane Language
Three s-words. We also hear a half-dozen uses of “d–n” or “d–mit,” and one or two uses each of “a–” and “b–ch.” God’s name is misused two or three times (once paired with “d–n”), and Jesus’ name is abused once. Bullies repeatedly taunt Louis with the racial slurs “dego” and “wop.” Pete throws the former slur at his brother to make him run faster.
Drug and Alcohol Content
As an adolescent, Louis seeks solace in secretly drinking (from bottles painted white to look like milk, hiding the alcohol in them) and smoking. Soldiers smoke cigarettes and cigars; we hear talk of going to a bar, and Louis drinks a beer in a posh Japanese restaurant.
Other Negative Elements
We see that trying to eat a raw albatross results in vomiting for Louis, Phil and Mac. A soldier cleaning excrement from the latrine quips, “For a bunch of guys who don’t eat anything, we sure do s— a lot. I think this one’s mine.”
In one of my high school literature classes, the teacher outlined the general categories of conflicts readers might encounter in stories: man vs. himself, man vs. nature and man vs. the inhumanity of his fellow man. All of those struggles are present in Unbroken , the true story of Louis Zamperini. No sooner does Louis overcome one conflict than he’s plunged into another. And each is worse than the ones that came before.
Yet Louis somehow endures.
Directed by Angelina Jolie and based on Laura Hillenbrand’s bestselling 2010 book, Unbroken suggests it’s a combination of Louis’ natural grit, memories of his mother and brother, and, ultimately, a God who cared for him that got him through. While Jolie reined in the violence and foul language enough to secure a PG-13 rating, this is a movie that reminds me a great deal of three other significant, difficult-to-watch historical dramas: Saving Private Ryan , Schindler’s List and 12 Years a Slave . As happens to so many people in those films, Louis endures unimaginable hardship, then emerges from his crucible of suffering as a heroic icon of hope, courage and perseverance.
Unbroken , then, is hard to watch but easy to praise. The horror of the inhumanity it depicts is wrenching. The triumph of one man’s spirit and heart is both astounding and deeply inspiring.
A postscript: Louis’ son, Luke, tells us that his father, who passed away just months before the film arrived in theaters (he was 97), loved the way it “handled the subject of his Christian faith.” Luke wrote for townhall.com , “Dad, you see, survived the horrors of war physically unbroken, but returned to the states emotionally shattered. Suffering from PTSD, he tried to kill the pain with alcohol and was consumed by visions of murdering his chief Japanese tormentor, a sadistic man nicknamed “The Bird” by inmates. It was only when, at the urging of my mother, he attended a Billy Graham crusade in 1949 and surrendered his life to Jesus Christ that my father truly became unbroken. The nightmares stopped. So did the drinking. And he dedicated the rest of his life to serving others.
“The film version of Unbroken does not spend a lot of screen time on his Christian conversion—detailing it in a series of text cards before the closing credits. And that is exactly the way my Dad and our entire family wanted it. … [His] greatest hope for the film version of Unbroken [was] not that it would be applauded by fellow Christians, although he certainly would have been honored and humbled by their appreciation; but that it would be seen by non-Christians drawn to a rousing epic about the indomitable human spirit who, when the credits have finished rolling, might just discover there’s a whole lot more to his story than that.”
Adam R. Holz
After serving as an associate editor at NavPress’ Discipleship Journal and consulting editor for Current Thoughts and Trends, Adam now oversees the editing and publishing of Plugged In’s reviews as the site’s director. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three children. In their free time, the Holzes enjoy playing games, a variety of musical instruments, swimming and … watching movies.
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Watch the series
Unbroken: path to redemption.
Common Sense says
Faith-based sequel has violent moments, lots of drinking.
Based on 6 reviews
Based on 1 review
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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Unbroken: Path to Redemption is a faith-based follow-up to 2014's Unbroken . The sequel concentrates on Louis Zamperini's return to the United States after WWII. Also based on Laura Hillenbrand's best-selling book , this film continues Zamperini's ( Samuel Hunt ) story as he meets and marries Cynthia Applewhite ( Merritt Patterson ) and struggles with nightmares, PTSD, and alcoholism. There's a lot of alcohol use; Zamperini drinks in nearly every scene of the movie. There are also violent, traumatic scenes in Louis' flashbacks to his time on the raft and in the POW camp. Characters also kiss, make a few suggestive comments, and use the racial slur "Jap." Despite the edgy content, the movie has a message about the power of faith and love to transform and heal, as well as a strong theme of perseverance.
- Parents say (6)
- Kids say (1)
Report this review, an excellent sequel to an incredible story.
This title has:
What's the Story?
UNBROKEN: PATH TO REDEMPTION is a faith-based drama that's based on of Laura Hillenbrand's best-selling book and continues the story begun in 2014's Unbroken . The sequel focuses on Louis Zamperini's (Samuel Hunt) difficult return home and PTSD after surviving both 47 days adrift in the Pacific and being tortured in a POW camp in Japan for two years during WWII. The movie particularly focuses on Zamperini's early marriage to his wife, Cynthia (Merritt Patterson), and how it becomes increasingly troubled because of his self-medication with alcohol, which turns him into a paranoid, angry drunk. Eventually, the movie shifts to how Cynthia's faith and her encouragement to attend a Billy Graham revival change Louis' life.
Is It Any Good?
This slightly unnecessary but well-acted drama explores how faith and family saved Zamperini from years of harrowing nightmares and PTSD. While the story of Louis' return home isn't quite as riveting as the Olympics and WWII portions of the first Unbroken , the lead actors both earnestly convey how the Zamperinis struggled with his alcoholism early in their marriage. And unlike some faith-based films that are heavy handed with conversion themes, the evangelism in Unbroken: Path to Redemption is reserved for the end of the movie, when Will Graham (Billy Graham's grandson) plays his famous grandfather leading his legendary revivals.
The movie's story is fairly straightforward, with several scenes of Louis drinking, making embarrassing/insulting/paranoid comments and then drinking again. Meanwhile, Cynthia looks wide-eyed and disappointed but also patient and steadfast each time he cycles through his episodes. It's a shame there isn't more than just a passing sequence related to Zamperini's return to Japan, since reportedly Louis' time with the Japanese war criminals was profound for both the soldiers and the American war hero. The idea that becoming a born-again Christian is a miraculous cure to substance abuse may also leave nonbelievers skeptical, but this is ultimately a film that fills the void that many in the evangelical community felt Angelina Jolie's Unbroken left by ignoring Zamperini's conversion story.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the depiction of violence in Unbroken: Path to Redemption. What's the difference between war-based violence and more stylized or fantasy violence? Do they have the same impact ?
Who would you say is the intended audience for this film? Did you think it was obvious that the movie is faith-based?
How is Louis' alcohol use handled and depicted in the movie? Does it portray the consequences of substance abuse?
How do the characters demonstrate compassion and perseverance ? Why are those important character strengths ?
- In theaters : September 14, 2018
- On DVD or streaming : December 11, 2018
- Cast : Samuel Hunt , Merritt Patterson , Will Graham
- Director : Harold Cronk
- Studios : Pure Flix Entertainment , Universal Pictures
- Genre : Drama
- Topics : History
- Character Strengths : Compassion , Perseverance
- Run time : 98 minutes
- MPAA rating : PG-13
- MPAA explanation : thematic content and related disturbing images
- Last updated : October 14, 2022
Our Editors Recommend
Intense WWII biopic is inspiring but doesn't go deep enough.
Thank You for Your Service
Violence, language, intense themes in powerful PTSD drama.
Drug-addicted gang member reforms in faith-based true story.
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Themes & Topics
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
Reviewed by: John Decker CONTRIBUTOR
Importance of faith , hope , courage, self-sacrifice, perseverance, and FORGIVENESS
“Hate is self-destructive.” (Louis Zamperini, CBS interview, “A war hero's ‘Unbroken’ bond with his biographer”)
Japanese WWII prisoner of war camps / war crimes
About Louis Zamperini— His wife and he became born-again Christians after attending Billy Graham crusades. “He said as soon as he made his decision for Christ he forgave his captors and never had another nightmare again. Later Graham helped Zamperini launch a new career as a Christian inspirational speaker.”
FEAR, Anxiety and Worry —What does the Bible say? Answer
What is REPENTANCE ?
“Survival. Resilience. Redemption.”
“U nbroken” is based on the life of Louis Zamperini, an American WWII war hero who passed away this year (1917–2014). Mr. Zamperini certainly had an exceptional life, not the least of which is his exceptional story of repentance and grace which occurred after enduring so much at the hands of the Japanese in concentration camps. That story of grace is film-worthy indeed, but you’re not going to get it in the film “Unbroken”. For all of what this movie contains, good or ill, it does not contain that story of grace but meagerly, in some text, at the very end of the film.
For me, personally, the disappointment of not getting his whole story, not just from a religious point of view but also from a film-goers perspective, was pronounced. I felt like I was dropped off at the end of Act II in a three act play. Does the film contain the story of Mr. Zamperini’s redemption to some extent? Well, the way it starts off, you might expect it to. Let’s just say that it does not write God out of his life entirely, and you certainly get some religious content here and there. But the magnificent story of Mr. Zamperini’s redemption is lost in “Unbroken”.
If you’re planning on seeing “Unbroken,” I highly recommend reading this article first.
The portrayal of war , endurance, torture and survival in this film are fairly well done. For the record, my wife liked it a lot more than I did. In “Unbroken,” you do get a good dose of what Mr. Zamperini’s life was like, though I do not find the way in which the story was told to be very compelling, which is surprising, considering the contributions by the award-winning Coen brothers.
The style of violence in “Unbroken” is largely not gory. The beatings are painful to behold, and the portrayal of war and suffering is tough to stomach, but the blood and guts are tempered for this genre.
As for sexuality, there are some Vargas pin-up posters, that is the largest extent of female body portrayal. At more than one point, a boy is looking up women’s skirts. There is not a whole lot of male nudity, perhaps none, with the exception of one very long scene which contains full backside nudity of two men. Part of the scene even flashes to the front where male genitalia may be visible for a short moment.
As for profanity, this film contains, in most scenes, as much of that as one might expect from a war film. It does not shy from regular cursing, including using the Lord’s name in vain a few times (GD, Jesus, etc.).
Substances: There is a little smoking and drinking, but it is not a large part of the film.
For me it is truly tragic, what was left out of this movie—the story of grace . Young Zamperini’s mischievousness is an all too familiar illustration of the human spirit which God made. It is my conviction that the mischievousness of young men reflects how God made them—uncovering falsehoods, creating transparency on the fly and defying the norm. The sinful aspect of it all does not negate that we were made in His magnificent image. We, His creation, may fit no more well in a box than He does.
“In October 1950, Zamperini went to Japan, gave his testimony, and preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ through an interpreter.” The colonel in charge of the Sugamo Prison encouraged any of the prisoners who recognized Zamperini to come forward and meet him again. “Zamperini threw his arms around each of them. Once again, he explained the Christian Gospel of forgiveness to them. The prisoners were somewhat surprised by Zamperini's genuine affection for those who had once ill-treated him,” and Zamperini reports that “some gave their lives to Christ.”
In God’s sight, it is totally unacceptable for a Christian to refuse to forgive others. Remember the parable of the master who forgave a guilty man who owed him an amount so enormous that he could never hope to pay it back? The master completely forgave him. But, afterward, that forgiven man roughly grabbed another who owed him a very small amount, and allowed him no time to repay—showed him no mercy—and threw him into prison. When the master heard of this, he was FURIOUS and his punishment was swift.
In that parable , the Master represents God. And the forgiven man represents you—if you have similarly FAILED to forgive another, when Christ’s blood has paid your unpayable debt to God, and He has forgiven you for everything you have ever done wrong —and for your continuing failures to do everything that is truly right and good .
Therefore, we have a responsibility to be humble , forgiving, loving servants of God.
“In a word, live together in the forgiveness of your sins , for without it no human fellowship…can survive. Don’t insist on your rights, don’t blame each other, don’t judge or condemn each other, don’t find fault with each other, but accept each other as you are, and forgive each other every day from the bottom of your hearts…” —Dr. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison
Unfortunately, for lack of the whole story, the story can be lost altogether. One writer for Boston.com remarked in her review of the book “Unbroken,” that “Finding God is an all too familiar ending. I’d prefer to remember Zamperini as a child who rigged church bells to chime the way he wanted.” Wrong, Maria. Young Zamperini is the man that God made. Old Zamperini is the man that God renewed.
And so utterly, this movie was for me, a disappointment.
Violence: Heavy to extreme / Profanity: Heavy—“G*d-d*mn,” “Jesus,” “God,” “Oh G*d,” “Oh my G*d,” “d*mn” (5), f-words (2), “son of a b*tch,” s-words (3), “*ss” / Sex/Nudity: Heavy
“When Zamperini turned 81, he was invited to carry the flame at the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. He ran through the streets of Naoetsu, where he had once marched as a prisoner. This time, he was there as a free man—carrying the torch of the ancient Greeks in his right hand and the sacred fire of Christ in his heart.” (by Tonya Stoneman, In Touch Ministries)
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers .
PLEASE share your observations and insights to be posted here.
UNBROKEN: PATH TO REDEMPTION
"any person can be delivered".
UNBROKEN: PATH TO REDEMPTION UNBROKEN: PATH TO REDEMPTION picks up where Angelina Jolie’s 2014 movie UNBROKEN ends, but showcases Olympic athlete Louis Zamperini’s faith journey toward Jesus back in America. Posted by Movieguide on Friday, September 14, 2018
What You Need To Know:
UNBROKEN: PATH TO REDEMPTION has a visceral, emotionally stirring ending that will strike the audiences heartstrings. The production quality is very good, with excellent costumes and sets. The message of forgiveness, redemption and radical transformation because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is so strong in this true story, Zamperini’s testimony has captured the attention of people worldwide, even Christians. Although UNBROKEN: PATH TO REDEMPTION ends with redemption, viewers should be mindful that the alcoholism brings another layer of complexity to the story. UNBROKEN: PATH TO REDEMPTION is a fabulous must-see movie for teenagers and adults. MOVIEGUIDE® advises caution for younger audiences.
Miscellaneous Immorality: Nothing else objectionable.
UNBROKEN: PATH TO REDEMPTION follows Louis Zamperini after his return from imprisonment in Japan during World War II. PATH TO REDEMPTION picks up where Angelina Jolie’s 2014 movie UNBROKEN ends but showcases Louis’ painful faith journey and eventual victory over alcoholism after the war.
UNBROKEN: PATH TO REDEMPTION begins with a montage showcasing clips and newspaper images of World War II’s conclusion as well as Zamperini’s incredible survival in a raft for 47 days and torture by “The Bird,” a malicious Japanese prison guard. This reminds viewers what happened in the previous UNBROKEN movie while also setting the stage so that PATH TO REDEMPTION can stand on its own. The opening scene shows Louis in Japan in 1952 standing before a group of Japanese war criminals where he deliberately asks, “Where’s Watanabe?” aka The Bird.
The movie then jumps back a couple years to his arrival in the States where the Zamperini family greets a uniformed Louis in his hometown of Torrance, Calif. Louis clearly suffers from PTSD, but he tries to hide it, and he even tells a priest that he blames God for what he endured. The military asks Louis to travel around the country to give speeches to raise money for War Bonds since he’s a war hero, but Louis’s PTSD drives him to terrible alcoholism, a coping mechanism to run from his nightmares of The Bird’s brutal attacks on him.
His drinking gets so bad, he’s ordered to take a three-week vacation in Miami to pull himself together. During this time, he encounters Cynthia Applewhite, with whom he falls in love very quickly. They have a brief courtship, get married and settle in Torrance to be close to Louis’ family.
In the marriage, Louis struggles to find work, since he never completed college before going to war. This drives him deeper into alcohol, all the while trying to hide it from his wife. Cynthia inspires Louis to try running again to see if he can return to run in the Olympics, but this also doesn’t make the intense nightmares go away. Louis has a void in his life that hasn’t been filled by alcohol, by a wife, by running again, or even by a baby daughter. His darkness merely gets worse. Something has to change, or else Louis could lose his marriage. What will Louis do?
UNBROKEN: PATH TO REDEMPTION has a visceral, emotionally stirring ending that will strike the audience’s heartstrings. The production quality is very good, with good costumes and sets. While the writing is very focused, with a clear direction of where the story is going, there are scenes at the beginning with weak dialogue and acting, particularly the courtship scenes between Louis and Cynthia. The acting however improves, and Samuel Hunt delivers a stirring performance as Louis Zamperini.
The message of forgiveness, redemption and radical transformation because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is so strong in this true story, Zamperini’s testimony has captured the attention of people worldwide, even people who hold to the Christian faith. PATH TO REDEMPTION portrays Zamperini’s salvation in a powerful fashion that gives all glory to God, yet never comes off as cheesy or overly preachy (even in scenes with preaching). The late Billy Graham, to whom the movie is dedicated, is portrayed by his grandson Will Graham in the climax.
Although UNBROKEN: PATH TO REDEMPTION ends with redemption, audiences should be mindful that the alcoholism brings another layer of complexity to the story. Louis’ addiction often leads him to disrupt his home life, and on a few occasions, he acts with mild violence. However, his alcoholism is never glorified, and the redemptive nature shows that the Holy Spirit heals all types of pain and addiction.
UNBROKEN: PATH TO REDEMPTION is a fabulous must-see movie for older children and adults, but because of some subject matter, MOVIEGUIDE® advises some caution for older children.
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Movie Review: Unbroken
by Matt Slick | Dec 27, 2014 | Book and Movie Reviews
Unbroken is based on the true-life of Louis Zamperini (Jack O’Connell) who faced and survived incredible and horrendous difficulties. The film opens with a battle sequence between bombers and Japanese zeros during World War II. It’s very well done and you are quickly engrossed, nervously clenching the armrests of your chair while you are enduring the battle. From there the story takes us through Louis’ childhood, his Italian upbringing, and his Olympic athleticism cut short by the War. We are taken back to the war-torn plane that barely makes it to base. Soon thereafter, with a replacement crew, they are sent back out in nothing more than a rickety, clunky yet “certified” flying-device. Sure enough, all the engines die and they crash land in the Pacific Ocean with Louis being one of the three survivors. After 47 days at sea, they are picked up by a Japanese ship and shipped off to prisoner of war camp. Louis quickly becomes the focus of the Savage camp commander who takes his violent abuse out upon Louis. But, Lewis endures, and endures, and endures. You find yourself amazed at how he survived the physical and mental torture and remained unbroken.
Angelina Jolie directs and does a great job. The cinematography is excellent and the acting is all very good. Jack O’Connell plays the leading character is very talented. We will be hearing more of him in the future. The film has little cussing and what it does have is contextually appropriate.
I would definitely recommend this film especially since it opens up with a scene of the preacher actually mentioning Jesus in a favorable light. This is something uncommon in Hollywood nowadays where Christians are routinely vilified. But, not so here. In fact, at the end of the movie, we are told how his faith helped him and how he went back to Japan years later and forgave his captors. Of course, the real Louis Zamperini became a Christian, but the movie portrays a generic kind of belief in God at his conclusion. At least, it wasn’t insulting to the Christian faith. That’s a nice switch.
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Unbroken movie review.
It must have been in about 2014 that I first read the book Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. Let me tell you, it about gutted me.
The Life of Louis Zamperini, POW
Unbroken is the true story of United States olympian Louis Zamperini who was shot down over the Pacific during World War II and became a prisoner of war in Japan.
After surviving floating in a raft in the middle of the Pacific Ocean for 46 days, Zamperini and one of his fellow airmen were taken to an absolute hell on earth. He spent the next two years being endlessly humiliated, starved, and tortured by his prison guard, “The Bird.”
Ultimately, Zamperini survived the war and his imprisonment. He returned to his family in southern California.
The Movie Adaptation of Unbroken
The book goes on to tell about this transition back to “normal” life. It is at this point that the new movie Unbroken: Path to Redemption (released in the U.S. on September 14th) picks up Zamperini’s story.
I always find stories of redemption, conversion, or “love conquers all” to be quite compelling. So when I saw the preview of this movie, I knew I wanted to see it. But I was also a little hesitant. Unfortunately, it seems to me that a lot of faith-based movies tend to be formulaic, maybe a little dull, and quite strong in the cheese-factor, if you know what I mean.
After watching it, though, I think it’s better to look at it through two different lenses. First, on its merits as a movie. Then, with an eye toward the message it tries to portray.
The best thing I can say about the cinematic aspects of this movie is that it was stunning to watch. The costumers and set designers did a phenomenal job of recreating the allure and beauty of the mid-to-late 1940s. From clothing and accessories to cars and coffee pots, there was effort put into the smallest detail. I thoroughly enjoyed the visuals.
Director Harold Cronk (of God’s Not Dead ) and his team of screenwriters seemed to miss the mark as far as the story goes, however. For an hour and a half, the audience watches Zamperini (played quite well by Samuel Hunt) spiral more and more out of control as he grapples with depression, alcoholism, and PTSD (although it hadn’t been named as such in the 1940s).
We witness him swing from the heights of love for his new wife and daughter to the crushing lows of nightmares, flashbacks, and hallucinations. But the resolution—the path to redemption, as it were—takes only about the last 10 minutes of the film. And then it’s over.
As an audience member, I was left kind of scratching my head. If the movie was supposed to be about this man’s “path to redemption,” shouldn’t the story have been more about that? It seemed to me that the title could more fittingly have been Unbroken: Path Straight to Hell, but Magically Everything Turns Out Just Fine .
Early in the movie, at a family gathering to celebrate his return, we see Zamperini talking with his family’s priest. The priest hails the young man’s return to safety as a miracle. But Zamperini shoots him down. He says that it wasn’t God who saved him, but a couple of atom bombs that did the trick. The priest then tells him not to discount the part God played in bringing his survival. Zamperini looks at the priest with a sad smile and says, “I don’t, Padre. I give Him all the blame.”
We see where all of that blame leads him. He tries to continue to rely on the strength and perseverance that had served him so well as an Olympic athlete and as a POW. But he simply can’t do it. And the downward spiral finally lands him on a seat at a Billy Graham revival, something he had begrudgingly agreed to attend with his wife.
Billy Graham (played by his grandson, Will Graham) talks to the gathered congregation about being distanced from the Lord. What is it that caused that distance? How have they gotten to where they are today? Why do they no longer believe? Then he says, “...because you can’t see Him and can’t hear Him, you shut yourself away from Him.” And that’s the most dangerous place to be.
Moved and afraid, Zamperini tries to run out of the tent while everyone’s heads are bowed in prayer. But Reverend Graham sees him and tells him to stop. It is at this moment in the movie that Zamperini makes the choice to believe again. He finally sees that it was indeed God who kept him alive through his imprisonment and who brought his wife and daughter into his life. And that, instead of blaming God, he should offer his life as thanks and praise.
Redemption and Forgiveness
Without doubt, Louis Zamperini’s return to faith is nothing short of a miracle. But, to me, the even greater miracle is what he does with it. Through the grace of God, Zamperini amends his life. He quits drinking and focuses his attention back on his family.
Most remarkably, though, he learns to forgive not only his captors and torturers, but he learns to forgive both God and himself. He becomes a living, breathing testament to the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew :
If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. -Matthew 6:14
What Humans are Truly Capable Of
In my humble opinion, if the storytellers had chosen to focus on the forgiveness humans are capable of through the redemption offered to us by Christ, they could have produced a significantly better movie. After all, we are all tormented by our own personal demons; we all have our own histories of pain and suffering to work through. And, like Louis Zamperini, we often find that trying to do so of our own accord only leads to more hurt and heartbreak for ourselves and for our loved ones.
But when we accept the redemption that Jesus longs to share with us, when we seek His forgiveness and, in turn, forgive others, well, that’s a story worth being told, don’t you think?
Have you seen Unbroken ? What are your thoughts? Love it? Hate it? Let us know in the comments!
Unbroken Movie Review #BISblog // Click to tweet Twitter
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Beth Williby is a mom of four pretty amazing humans and has been married to her college sweetheart for twenty years. She does her best praying through singing and feeding the people she loves. Having grown up in the Midwest, she now calls Northeast Florida home. You can find out more about her here . Read all of Beth's posts here .
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Unbroken: Path to Redemption – Christian Movie Review
The real story of unbroken.
Louis Zamperini was a man broken by war and captivity. He was an angry, unemployed, anxiety-ridden alcoholic trying to drink his Post Traumatic Stress-induced nightmares away…until he met Jesus. His transformation from a completely shattered man into a victorious servant of Jesus is the source of the somewhat ironic title – Unbroken. He had to be completely broken by life before he could be remade again by God. It is a great story! From beginning to end, my wife and I both loved Unbroken: Path to Redemption . It is not only a wonderful movie of one man’s life, but it resembles a parable about the power of the love of Jesus. It is a great movie. Go and see it!
If you have a difficult person in your life that you need help loving, see this movie.
If you are struggling with what seems like a hopeless relationship, see this movie.
If you are trapped in addiction and feel like you can’t escape, see this movie.
If your spouse is drowning in addiction, see this movie.
If you are dealing with anxiety, PTSD, depression or generally struggling and feel there is no way of getting out of it, see this movie.
It will give you hope because it shows Jesus working. He is the Way! In a lot of ways, the story is a lot like mine and probably yours. (minus the sharks and Japanese prison camps. For more please read 5 Powerful Spouse Evangelism Tools and Christians and Alcohol .
Unbroken: Path to Redemption – A Christian In Depth Review
Unbroken: Path to Redemption is the story that Angelina Jolie should have told in the first Unbroken movie in 2014. It is a beautiful, moving and intelligent film about the parts of the life of Louis Zamperini she left out. In a year that featured a lineup of fantastic Christian films, Paul, Apostle of Christ , I Can Only Imagine and The Case for Christ , this may be my favorite. It is an instant classic. For more good movies see 5 Must-See Christian Movie.
Unbroken: Path to Redemption may sound familiar to you as it involves a portion of the story of the novel of the same name, Unbroken by Laura Hildebrand and the 2014 movie . Each tells the story of Louis Zamperini, nicknamed the Torrance Tornado, a world-famous sprinter during the years surrounding World War 2. After competing at the Olympics in Berlin immediately before the war, Zamperini was a crewman on a B-24 that crashed in the Pacific Ocean during a rescue mission. He subsequently survived on an open raft in the Pacific Ocean for 47 days, followed by years of terrible torture at the hands of the Japanese in a prison camp. Hildebrand does a wonderful job chronicling these years in her best selling book which I enjoyed as well. Buy that here: Unbroken .
Zamperini is singled out for extra abuse and humiliation by the most sadistic of the Japanese guards who the prisoners called “the Bird”. His fame as an Olympian seemed to motivate the Bird to do everything possible to torture Zamperini in cruel and unusual ways. Though they survived, Zamperini and the rest of the soldiers and sailors who endured Japanese captivity did so in terrible condition. In the pictures taken immediately after their release, they appear to be haunted skeletons barely alive. The story of how they survived is an interesting story and the one that Ms. Jolie chose to tell in the prior movie…but it completely missed the core of Zamperini’s life. Zamperini was an on fire Christian who testified about his Savior every chance he could. His life was about Jesus not the Japanese. Being physically released from a prison camp was nothing compared with being set free from the law of sin and death.
The movie picks up where Jolie left off and right where the best work is done. It tells what happens with the rest of Zamperini’s life. The movie follows Zamperini as he first comes home and deals with a new found celebrity. There is a wonderful scene where he is walking through his hometown recognized and greeted by a proud and hopeful population. This fame is used by the army as he sets out on a War Bonds tour, but the long hours isolation and PTSD takes its toll on him. We see the first signs of major problems in his life as he travels and drinks his way through the country. Though Zamperini is physically sound when he arrives home, when he faces the demons caused by his captivity, things start to fall apart.
His decline is held back for a time by the adventure of meeting and marrying a beautiful young wife, Cynthia. He also sets out to regain the world-class track form that made him famous. Forget the nightmares, the abuse, and everything from the war, he would be the Torrance Tornado again and this would make life better. When this plan falls apart, the problems Zamperini have held at bay through sheer determination come screaming back in and take up residence. The first scene of hopeful triumphant hero is contrasted by a similar scene where haunted alcoholic Zamperini stumbles blindly down the same hostile street. It is a shocking turn of events. The actors playing Zamperini and his wife, Cynthia, do a wonderful job in their roles. They and the storyline make you like them. Their relationship is sweet and loving. When it begins to crumble, you are emotionally invested with them and feel pain with them.
Zamperini becomes alcoholic, obsessive and anxiety-ridden. He is a shell of his former self. Rather than present a stylized and painfully long version of the abuses Zamperini suffered, Path to Redemption shows Louie’s history through dramatic flashes that are more powerful for their brevity. When Zamperini is dreaming or hallucinating about the Bird, we see the same things he does. When he flashes back to the sharks circling his small raft, we are taken there in a moment as well. In one of the most powerful scenes in the film, when he flashes back to near drowning in his crashed bomber, we are there with him. It is jarring to watch, while also making Zamperini very sympathetic, even while he is destroying his family. Finally, Cynthia is at the end of her rope and determined not to take any more when she is invited to a Billy Graham Crusade by a neighbor…and Jesus changes everything.
I will not give away the rest of the story, but it is here that the movie shines from a Christian perspective. Jesus’ love is shown transforming one person. The people near them are then changed by His love and seeing the transformation. This continues outwardly and restores people, relationships and their families. This is shown in the lives of the Zamperini’s in clear, authentic and convincing ways. In some ways, I was watching my family’s story and many others who have been saved from the demons who were haunting them. Jesus saves and redeems. It is the heart of the Christian faith, but it is rarely expressed in the film so well. It is a true story that so clearly depicts the powerful work of Jesus happening every day around the world. Zamperini is born again and nothing is ever the same. Read What Does it Mean to be Born Again and 11 Life Changing Bible Verses About Being Born Again to learn more.
If you have a difficult person in your life and you need hope to keep on going, see this movie.
If you are feeling trapped in addiction and feel like you can’t escape, see this Unbroken.
If you are dealing with anxiety, PTSD, depression or generally struggling and feel there is no way of get out of it, see this movie.
If you are struggling with anger, bitterness and unforgiveness, this is a must see movie.
It will give you hope because it shows Jesus working. He is the Way!
My wife and I loved Unbroken: Path to Redemption and I think you will as well. It is a fantastic story of true redemption and love that can change anyone. It is an amazing story of Jesus working that is well told, well acted and quite the tear-jerker. See this wonderful movie if you want to be built up in your faith.
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“Unbroken” is a powerful movie, especially considering that it is based on a true story. Louis Zamperini was a strong-willed child, experimenting as a teen with drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes. However, he was raised by loyal parents who disciplined yet loved him. His mother prayed for him and Louis often saw her doing so without her knowing he was watching. His brother Pete saw in Louis an ability to run, and to run fast. He encouraged him to train and, sure enough, Louis began to break his high school’s records with his swift running. Soon he found himself headed to the Olympics.
The film focuses a lot on the suffering Louis eventually encountered. He entered World War II and was on a plane that lost its engines and crashed into the water. He and two friends survive on a raft, dealing with storms, sharks, thirst and hunger. During one particularly bad storm, with the water almost overturning the raft, Louis promises God he will follow Him if God allows him to survive. He does survive, although one companion dies a few days later. They wind up on the raft for some 45 days. Louis and his companion, Phil (Domhnall Gleeson), are found by Japanese soldiers and soon Louis finds himself in a POW camp. The commander, Corporal Watanabe (Takamasa Ishihara), sees a strength in Louis he is jealous of, and proceeds to inflict bodily pain and suffering on him, striking him repeatedly with a stick and at one point having the entire prison group punch Louis, one man at a time. They are ordered to do so or Louis’ friend Phil will be killed. Jack O’Connell is absolutely fantastic and convincing as Louis, as is Ishihara as Watanabe. The suffering of the men includes dealing with frigid temperatures without coats, unlike the Japanese soldiers.
Louis faces even more trials, including lifting a large piece of wood and holding it without dropping it after a full day’s work. Watanabe tells his soldiers to shoot Louis if he drops it. But Louis even endures this indignity. He says it is his belief that God is with him and enables him to overcome. He quotes a phrase his brother once used: Take it to make it.
Angelina Jolie shows herself to be very capable in directing the film. The themes include loyalty to God, family, and the ability to persevere by keeping hope alive. Sadly, the strong language and rear male nudity prevent us from awarding the movie our Dove “Family-Approved” Seal.
Dove Rating Details
An air battle with planes downed and exploding; man is wounded in plane and has blood on face; a fight and a boy is punched a few times; man is injured in a crash and blood is seen on his hands and face; men kill fish and a shark and cut it to eat and survive, blood is seen; plane shoots at men on raft; comment about Marines being beheaded; man is struck and hit with a pole, punched, kicked, smacked in the ear with a whip, and there is blood seen in several of these scenes; man's nose is broken; others are struck.
Some sexual innuendos.
GD-1; O/G-3; D-4; S-2; A-1; SOB-1; Geez-1; Shut up-2; a few racial remarks are used like "Wop," "Dumb Dago" and "Japs."
Boy drinks alcohol and smokes, but is corrected by a police officer and his family; smoking and drinking in other scenes by men, including beer.
Rear male nudity; shirtless men; men put hands over privates.
Boy is briefly spanked for disobedience; tension between characters; men vomit; man has doubted God but promises to follow Him if he survives and he does; men fall from a bridge.
Film information, dove content.
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Movie Review: Unbroken: Path To Redemption
[ Spoiler Alert: This review contains some spoilers. Those who wish to have none may want to read this review after seeing the movie.]
See Unbroken: Path to Redemption in movie theaters on September 14, 2018!
Unbroken: Path To Redemption , releasing in theaters September 14, 2018, is based on the incredible true story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner and WWII soldier and POW. Zamperini’s story is told in the New York Times bestseller, Unbroken , and was adapted for film in the 2014 Oscar-nominated film by the same name.
The 2014 movie by actress/filmmaker Angelina Jolie focused on the first half of Zamperini’s dramatic life story, depicting many sequences: running as a teenager in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, surviving a military plane crash over the Pacific during WWII, spending 47 days floating at sea, being “rescued” by Japanese soldiers, enduring a few harrowing years in a torturous prisoner-of-war camp, and eventually experiencing liberation at the end of the war in 1945. Unbroken: Path To Redemption , produced by Pure Flix,* Universal 1440 Entertainment, and The WTA Group continues this remarkable journey with Zamperini’s return home to the United States.
Zamperini’s agony did not end at the close of the war. Soon after returning to safety, he began to suffer from what we now know as post-traumatic stress disorder. Often when he closed his eyes, he was tormented by nightmares and flashbacks to his time under a cruel, violent prison guard. On the outside, everything looked wonderful; Zamperini was a war hero with a bright future, well-known as a former world-class athlete, but inside he was tormented and looking for relief in all the wrong places.
“God is My Enemy”
Christians will be encouraged by this true story as Christ the redeemer is exalted and glorified. Although the gospel message is not explicitly stated, the dramatic change that Christ and repentance brings is impossible to miss and is glorifying to God .
Christians will be encouraged by this true story as Christ the redeemer is exalted and glorified.
Throughout the film, as Louis continues to suffer, he questions God’s goodness, even claiming “God is my enemy.” Sadly, none of the Christians in the film gave Louis good answers to his questions about suffering. (We encourage believers looking for a biblical answer to this question to read How Could a Loving God…? ) However, the overall plot and resolution of the film shows clearly that God is not to blame for Louis’ suffering. Rather, Louis himself, and other sinful human beings who have hurt him, are responsible. It’s a stirring film.
One of AiG’s co-founders, Mark Looy, grew up near Zamperini and met him in the early ‘70s and heard his thrilling testimony. Mark says: “Zamperini’s life continued to be highly dramatic beyond where the Jolie film ended. In some ways, it’s as riveting a story as what he went through in WWII as a POW and in the Olympics as a world-class athlete. It’s a goose-bumps testimony, and it includes an account of remarkable forgiveness that is astounding.”
Notes for Parents
Parents with young children should know that Louis’ flashbacks and nightmares, which are kept rather mild, may be intense for younger viewers. There is also quite a bit of drunkenness (but this is always presented as a problem, not something glorified in the film), with some mild violence such as shouting and throwing things. There is little objectionable language, with only one instance of a character angrily swearing at Louis using the “H” word due to his refusal to make any changes in his life. Also, several female characters are shown wearing old-fashioned bikini swimsuits. Please note the film has a PG-13 rating.
An Incredible Ending to an Incredible Story
Unbroken: Path To Redemption is an inspiring story, and a wonderful film to take unbelievers to, especially if they have watched the 2014 film Unbroken and are missing the ending of Louis’ extraordinary story. Families and individuals are sure to be encouraged and pointed towards Christ as the answer to their turmoil. We encourage you to go and see this film !
*For full disclosure, AiG has a business relationship with Pure Flix’s online streaming service, affiliated with the movie-making side of Pure Flix. See https://answersingenesis.org/blogs/ken-ham/2018/07/09/answers-genesis-content-now-available-pureflix/
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Unbroken, then, is hard to watch but easy to praise. The horror of the inhumanity it depicts is wrenching. The triumph of one man's spirit and
This is a fairly graphic movie and there are plenty of scenes showing torturous abuse, including beatings, verbal harangues, and psychological
The idea that becoming a born-again Christian is a miraculous cure to substance abuse may also leave nonbelievers skeptical, but this is
Positive—My husband and I caught the early matinée on Christmas Day of this fine film. It is a true story of perseverance, determination, faith, and courage.
The production quality is very good, with excellent costumes and sets. The message of forgiveness, redemption and radical transformation because of the Gospel
Angelina Jolie directs and does a great job. The cinematography is excellent and the acting is all very good. Jack O'Connell plays the leading character is very
We see where all of that blame leads him. He tries to continue to rely on the strength and perseverance that had served him so well as an
Louis Zamperini was a man broken by war and captivity. He was an angry, unemployed, anxiety-ridden alcoholic trying to drink his Post Traumatic Stress-induced
Angelina Jolie shows herself to be very capable in directing the film. The themes include loyalty to God, family, and the ability to persevere by keeping hope
Unbroken: Path To Redemption is an inspiring story, and a wonderful film to take unbelievers to, especially if they have watched the 2014 film