Raised in Torrance, California, the son of Italian immigrants, Louis was a bad boy destined for jail or worse until his older brother turned him on to running.
He was good at it, competing in track at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin (Hitler noticed him). During World War II, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps.
When his B-24 went down in the Pacific, Louis survived on a life raft for a scarifying 47 days until he and others were captured by the Japanese, then starved and tortured for two years in a POW camp.
Unbroken is beautifully crafted even in its brutality. A sequence near war’s end, when Louis and the POWs are herded to a river expecting to be murdered en masse, is memory-scarring.
Jolie has an army of craftsmen in her corner, notably camera poet Roger Deakins (No Country for Old Men). But it’s her vision that gives Unbroken a spirit that soars. In honoring Louis’ endurance, she does herself proud.