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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.
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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?
- 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: September 21, 2019
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