Louis Zamperini (Jack O'Connell) is a rebel. His constant fights and reckless behaviour cause more than enough trouble for his family. They believe he will amount to nothing, despite his incredible ability to never give in - no matter what. When he applies himself to running, he discovers that he is very good at it. More than that; Zamperini is great and competes in the Olympic Games. When World War Two begins, Zamperini enlists in the US Air Force, but is shot down by Japanese planes. Captured and placed in a Prisoner of War camp, Zamperini is forced to apply his will and drive in order to make it through the toughest ordeal of his life.
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Louis Zamperini has learned to fight tooth and nail for what he believes in all through life. It may have caused him one or two problems with the law in his youth, but it taught him that to achieve success, he must fight harder than anyone else. It's with this attitude that he joins his school track team, eventually surpassing the sprinting talents of all the local sportsmen. He lands a place on the US 5000 metres team for the 1936 Berlin Olympics before disaster strikes. It's World War II and America has become involved with the conflict; Louis must put his promising running career on hold in order to joined the US Army Air Force and defend his country. But he is faced with new challenges when he and his comrades find themselves adrift on the Pacific Ocean following a devastating plane crash. Unfortunately for them, waiting on the land ahead at Japanese soldiers who inter him and his peers in a Tokyo prison. What he subsequently displays during his time there is a remarkable show of strength of character, fearlessness and an unwavering courage that would touch millions.
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Louis Zamperini may have been a wayward child, constantly getting into trouble with the local authorities, but he would soon grow up to be an inspiration to people across the world. At a young age he joined his school's track team and eventually went on to land a place on the US 5000 metres team during the 1936 Berlin Olympics. However, as World War II hit the globe, he put his sporting career on hold to protect his country as a member of the US Army Air Force which subsequently saw him and his comrades captured by the Japanese army as prisoners of war after their plane crashed and they were adrift on the Pacific Ocean for 47 days. Louis' incredible determination and strength of character helped him pull through his ordeals and tell his story to the world and now, at the age of 97, he re-tells it for the big screen.
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While this true prison drama is sharply shot and acted, there isn't a moment we haven't seen before. Instead of drawing out the uniqueness of the real events, the filmmakers rely on the usual stereotypes, which leaves this feeling more like a run-of-the-mill TV movie. But there's a very strong narrative buried in here, and some terrific performances underneath the preachy melodrama.
The title character is 14-year-old James (Lofranco), who has been in trouble with the law since he was 6. Abused as a child, he has a long and violent criminal record, and since he's been labelled as a "bad" kid he knows he'll never get a chance to achieve anything at his new high school. His mother (Parker) tries her best, but he still ends up hanging out with druggy Crystal (Salazar) and her gangster friend Roc (Trotter). For James, a life of crime seems more useful than going to school, so he begins working for Roc, only barely managing to avoid arrest and death. Then he meets local shop girl Sarah (Farmiga), who gives him a reason to rethink his life.
This plot is intercut with a parallel story of James in prison three years later, so we know what's going to happen. Of course, the thing that put him behind bars is the oldest cliche in the book: he does one last job for Roc before going straight for Sarah. This intercut half of the film is even darker, as James moves between warring with a rival inmate (Gomez) to clashing with the hard-headed warden (Woods) to resisting the advice of a Shawshank-like guru (Rhames) to trying to help a doomed newbie (Rosenfield).
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It seems you can take a kid out of college but you can't take college out of a kid as two discontented parents find themselves struggling to behave themselves as they take their respective 18-year-old children to visit their new college campus Middleton. George and Edith are total opposites who find themselves completely uninterested in each other's quirks initially; George is a serious, suit-wearing heart surgeon desperately worried about the academic future of his overly chilled out son, while Edith embarrasses her hard-working daughter with her laidback attitude and never being too afraid to speak her mind. When the parents find themselves separated from the campus tour, they actually start enjoying each other's company and slowly but surely begin to fall in love as they help each other come to terms with the complications of parenthood.
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