The faith-based sequel serves as a bit of a coda to Angelina Jolie’s 2014 film about the amazing World War II survival story of Olympic runner Louis Zamperini. It focuses on PTSD and the difficulties of normal life after surviving events that are very much not normal. Rating: 2 stars out of 4.
“Didn’t we already get an ‘Unbroken’ movie?” you might ask, about “Unbroken: Path to Redemption.” Is it even possible to have a sequel to a biopic? Faith-based film production company PureFlix thinks so.
“Unbroken: Path to Redemption” serves as a bit of a coda to Angelina Jolie’s 2014 film about the amazing World War II survival story of Olympic runner Louis Zamperini, a minor corrective.
Both films take Laura Hillenbrand’s biography as inspiration and adaptation material, but “Path to Redemption” picks up where Jolie’s film faded into text. All the truly dramatic events from Zamperini’s life — the 1936 Berlin Olympics; being shot down in the Pacific and surviving on a raft for 47 days; his time in a Japanese prisoner of war camp and being declared dead — all that is shoehorned into an opening-credit sequence depicted in newspaper clippings. For “Path to Redemption,” the action starts back home.
“Unbroken: Path to Redemption” is a story about PTSD and the difficulties of normal life after surviving events that are very much not normal. Plopped back in suburban Torrance, California, war hero Louis (Samuel Hunt) finds himself at loose ends and at the bottom of the bottle — the only way he knows how to cope with the terrifying flashbacks he endures of his crash, the raft, the prison camp and the Japanese guard that tormented him, “Bird” Watanabe (David Sakurai).
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It’s not until his wife (Merritt Patterson) convinces him to attend a tent revival hosted by Billy Graham (played by Graham grandson and preacher Will Graham) does Louis see another way out.
The journey from rock bottom to seeing the light is one we’ve seen before, and “Path to Redemption” doesn’t break the mold. And its focus on one moment in a life of incredible moments makes it feel unnecessarily prolonged, and a fussy correction to a film about Zamperini that already exists.
★★ “Unbroken: Path to Redemption,” with Samuel Hunt, Merritt Patterson, David Sakurai, Will Graham. Directed by Harold Cronk, from a screenplay by Richard Friedberg and Ken Hixon, based on a book by Laura Hillenbrand. 98 minutes. Rated PG-13 for thematic content and related disturbing images. Opens Sept. 14 at multiple theaters.