One Critic Is Calling the UNBROKEN Sequel Racist… Here’s Why He’s Wrong
By Tess Farrand, Staff Writer
The new faith-based movie UNBROKEN: PATH TO REDEMPTION released this weekend in theaters has become the target of critics blasting its faith content and even calling it “racist.”
The movie follows the real-life story of WWII hero Louis Zamperini’s journey to faith in Jesus, which functions as a sequel of sorts to Angelina Jolie’s 2014 UNBROKEN. Zamperini’s faith was not significantly explored in the original.
Some critics are stating the movie “oversells its message.” One even called the filmmaking “uninspired.” Carlos Aguilar of Wrap.com ventures to call the movie “racist.”
Aguilar unjustly compares PATH TO REDEMPTION to Jolie’s UNBROKEN which followed Zamperini’s imprisonment in Japan during WWII. PATH TO REDEMPTION isn’t trying to be Jolie’s movie at all. In fact, it’s trying to fill in a major missing piece of Zamperini’s life, which is his meeting Jesus.
Aguilar writes that PATH TO REDEMPTION, “accentuates the conversion narrative, pushing racism and slamming psychiatry along the way.” He went on to detail that in PATH TO REDEMPTION, Zamperini brushes off the need to seek help for his PTSD. Yet, Aguilar neglects the fact that Zamperini’s refusal for medical help isn’t because of an innate disdain of the profession, but a callous attitude which refuses to give up his pride and seek help. The power in the movie is that the Holy Spirit breaks through his PTSD to transform and heal him.
To call the movie “racist” is truly ridiculousness. Zamperini has nightmares to the Japanese POW camp where “The Bird,” formally known as Mutsuhito Watanabe, tortured Zamperini and the other POWs. Aguilar’s review prefaces that Zamperini’s nightmares are “allegedly triggered” by Watanabe, as if it’s hard to believe a POW would have nightmares after being tortured by war criminals. He goes on to say that the “The Bird’s” portrayal as his torturer is “inexcusable insensitivity” since the character is Japanese and the role perpetuates “hatred.” One has to wonder if this critic even saw the movie since he omits the fact that although Zamperini never saw “The Bird” again, he returned to Japan at the end of the movie in order to forgive him and all the Japanese who ran the POW prisons. How one could interpret a message of hate from PATH TO REDEMPTION is truly mind-boggling. Not to mention that “The Bird” was far more brutal and loathsome in Jolie’s UNBROKEN, and that movie didn’t even display a scene of Zamperini forgiving his enemy.
The critic also delivered a backhanded compliment to director Harold Cronk, saying PATH TO REDEMPTION was Cronk’s “least loathsome cinematic venture yet,” and that it didn’t have “Cronk’s specific brand of proselytizing.”
There seems to be a bigoted bias against faith-based movies in the secular field, especially The Wrap, and it shows the most when critics slam a movie that’s all about forgiveness and restoration as being bigoted and hateful. As if hearing a man preach about loving your enemies inspires anything but love. It’s especially offensive given the true atrocities Zamperini (and many others) faced and Aguilar’s dismissive attitude towards their sacrifice and trials. However, as easy as it is to take offense for Zamperini’s family’s sake, one has to wonder how Zamperini himself would’ve responded to a reviewer like this. If we can speculate, he’d just share the love of Jesus.
Audiences had a different take than TheWrap and other publications. UNBROKEN: PATH TO REDEMPTION received an ‘A’ grade on CinemaScore, a coveted reaction for studios. While the movie didn’t break any box-office records over the weekend, it has impacted many already positively, and that’s more than we can say any of its competitors did over the weekend.