Unbroken: Path To Redemption
Stars: Samuel Hunt, Merritt Patterson, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Bobby Campo, David DeLuise, Bob Gunton, Gary Cole, Will Graham and David Sakurai
Director: Harold Cronk
Scriptwriters: Richard Friedenberg and Ken Hixon based on the book “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand
Composer: Brandon Roberts
Cinematography: Zoran Popovic
Universal/Pure Flix Entertainment
Running Length: 99 minutes
Now Out On DVD
“Unbroken,” the first film about WWII prison camp survivor Louis Zamparini, was directed by Angelina Jolie in 2014. The film won awards and told the story of Zamparini (then played by Jack O’Connell) through Olympian glory for the 5000-meter run, being a bombardier, crash landing in the Pacific, 47 days until rescue and ending up in a Japanese prison camp run by the sadistic Mutsuhiro Watanabe, known as “The Bird.” This “Unbroken” film ended with liberation, and now “Unbroken: Path To Redemption” picks up where the other film left off.
The story is told with flashbacks. Samuel Hunt (“Empire” and “Chicago P.D.”) plays Louis Zamparini, who is an American hero, hailed for his survival skills and coming back alive. Well, almost, as Louis is having dreams of horrors of the past, adrift at sea and then prison camp tortures, and starts to drift into alcohol for relief. Eventually, Louis meets Cynthia Applewhite (Merritt Patterson from “The Royals”) and they marry. She is a stabilizing force in his life and deep in her Christian faith. This is confusing to Zamperini and his drinking threatens to break the marriage. He can’t find a job and doesn’t have skills. What good is being a runner now? Can’t earn a living with it. It isn’t until he meets a young Billy Graham at a Rally (Graham is portrayed by his grandson, Will Graham) that Zamparini’s life changes. The message is: allow God to forgive him and then Louis can forgive others.
Louis Zamparini certainly had an event filled life up to meeting Billy Graham. Here was a young man who had the concentration and endurance to become an Olympian winner, then to survive 47 days on a raft in the ocean, then rescue by the other side and end up in a prison camp with a commander who gives “sadistic” new meaning. Finally, liberation---and then what? Companies are not lining up to hire him and those bad dreams, which today we would called Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, start to consume him. Marriage? Sometimes a problem, too, and even though family and friends try to help, it all comes down to going deep within yourself and fighting past your own obstacles.
As far as acting is concerned, it is adequate and I expected a bit more after seeing the first “Unbroken” with Jack O’Connell as Louis. The intensity is there, but the dialogue doesn’t always convey this. Inspirational film companies such as Pure Flix are doing more and more in the commercial film area and “Unbroken” is a good step forward in major theaters. You don’t have to see Jolie’s film first, as the beginning of “Path To Redemption” has a short section on what happened prior to when “Path” begins, but it may help in seeing all that Louis endured and how the human spirit can mend itself again and again and again. What soldiers endure when going to war differs from continent to continent, but in Asia, it was heat and little food. The film shows loyalty to country. Though soldiers may not say what actually happened to them in wartime, but prefer to keep it to themselves, it can linger there, as “Unbroken” tells us. Sometimes it takes that special moment and special person for them to reach into themselves and find peace.
Copyright 2019 Marie Asner