First Hit: Unfortunately this film only focused on his suffering.
In many ways the story of Louis Zamperini’s life is too big and expansive for the screen.
This left Angelina Jolie with having to make a choice of what to present. She chose to share little of his joys and more on how he suffered. The major part of this film takes place while he is a prisoner of the Japanese in a POW camp located in Japan.
The punishment dished out Corporal/Sergeant Watanabe (the “bird” as prisoners called him) was relentless. He feigned niceness and respect from time to time, and then would turn around and punish Louis in horrible ways. The way this film was shot, broad vistas when in the plane or on the life raft to microscopic views of the torture. This isn’t to say that what Louis endured was brave beyond compare and therefore this is a major part of his life.
However, in the end, I was relieved that the film was over and very happy to read the post-closing credits and pictures of him, smiling and joyful – something that didn’t exist much, if at all, in the film.
Jack O’Connell as Louis was very good, but I felt as if something was missing within him that would make the story more real. Domhnall Gleeson as Pilot Phil was good as his friend and fellow survivor. Takamasa Ishihara was very good as Watanabe and provided a sick view of a torturer. Joel and Ethan Coen wrote this script, which was effective but very dark and one-sided towards gruesome punishment. Jolie’s direction was very pointed to the pain Zamperini suffered to the point of overload. Where was the man who was joyfully smiling at the end of the film.
Overall: I felt that this film showed only a partial view of an amazing man.