The faith-based sequel about Louis Zamperini tops the 2014 original in many ways.
Based on a bestselling book from author Laura Hillenbrand, this biopic about the WWII hero delivers the redemption - figuratively and literally - that the Angelina Jolie-directed original Unbroken missed. This one is directed by Harold Cronk, and at 98 minutes running time - versus a sloth-like 137 minutes for Jolie's iteration - his movie hits the sweet spot, keeping the story taut while avoiding all the endless lulls of the first.
Unbroken: Path to Redemption picks up where the other film left off, with Zamperini's return to the US after his brutal captivity in Japanese POW camps. Mentally traumatized by his jailers' torture, haunted by nightmares and plagued by heavy drinking, his life spirals out of control until he comes to faith in Christ at a 1949 Billy Graham crusade.
Unusual for a sequel, the cast and crew - with the exception of producer Mathew Baer - are completely new, but we as moviegoers are better for it. Actor Samuel Hunt plays Zamperini and delivers a near flawless performance, making the character alternately likeable and repugnant, depending on the point in his journey. Canadian actress Merritt Patterson is sympathetic in her portrayal of Cynthia, Zamperini's wife, who, in the film as in real life, helps get her husband to the revival meeting that leads him to Christ.
Cronk, who also has another good faith-based film out right now, God Bless the Broken Road, delivers a strong performance in the director's chair. The cinematography, set design and wardrobes are well executed - superior to those in the original film - and work in concert to transport viewers back to the years after the war.
In a word, a strong movie with a strong message. Christian Film Blog gives Unbroken: Path to Redemption an 8 out of 10 and recommends you take it in this weekend.