A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The main character's intense determination helps him make it to the Olympics and, later, to survive as a POW, despite unbearably horrible circumstances. This is definitely a story about perseverance and triumph in the face of adversity.
Positive Role Models
Zamperini managed to survive 47 days stranded at sea and then two years in a Japanese POW camp because of his grit, resilience, and unbreakable will. Other characters are shown deteriorating, both physically and mentally.
Violence & Scariness
Plenty of war-related violence. Early scenes show aerial combat, with planes and crewmen getting shot up and exploding. Then a trio of men is lost at sea in a small raft, struggling to survive; they take on sharks with their bare hands. The last act takes place in a Japanese POW camp run by a brutal sadist. The prisoners are beaten with sticks, threatened with swords, given meager rations, and forced into slave labor. They're also forced to undress; their bare bottoms are shown, and they cover their genitals with their hands.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Non-sexual nudity includes a scene in which prisoners are forced to undress, and viewers see their bare bottoms.
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Brief profanity includes a partial "f--k," "s--t," "damn," and "ass."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A teen boy takes swigs from liquor disguised in milk bottles. Some characters smoke cigarettes (accurate for the era). Adult soldiers drink beer.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Unbroken is Angelina Jolie's affecting, inspiring biopic about Louis Zamperini (Jack O'Connell), an Olympic athlete who finds himself tested all sorts of ways during World War II, culminating in a two-year stint in a Japanese prison camp. As expected based on the source material (the script was adapted from Laura Hillenbrand's book about Zamperini's life), there are plenty of scenes showing torturous abuse, including beatings, verbal harangues, and psychological attacks; some of it is quite difficult to watch. Aerial combat footage includes explosions, and Zamperini's time adrift on the ocean is also intense; at one point, he and his boatmates take on sharks with their bare hands. Language is infrequent and mild, but some early scenes portray a teenager smoking and drinking. Families may want to check out Hillenbrand's young adult adaptation of her bestselling book. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This movie will undoubtedly leave audiences with nothing but admiration for the strong, noble Zamperini, and for this alone, it's worth watching. It's also notable for its lush cinematography and disciplined storytelling, which doesn't rely overly on swelling music and other tricks to make audiences feel with a capital F.
But for a film that does so much, Unbroken still falls short in some aspects. A footnote at the end hints at incomparable kindness that Zamperini bestowed upon his enemies, and yet this is told in words rather than images. It's a pity. And though it's clear Zamperini survives partly by holding on to the lessons his brother gave him -- words that echo through his head and that the audience hears -- it feels like there's much more depth to him that's left unexplored. And what of his pain? The film hints that he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder of some kind; completely understandable, given the circumstances, but nothing makes a man even more unbroken than to have survived all so much while still maintaining the measure of grace that historians said Zamperini had -- but that's not quite reflected here. We would have loved to have seen the whole story.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.