"Unbroken," the Angelina Jolie-directed biopic about the Olympic runner and World War II hero Louis Zamperini, could be in for a race of its own.
The first trailer for the Universal Pictures film has debuted, and it bears many of the hallmarks of an awards-season contender, including an inspirational true story, a potential breakout performance and a pair of Oscar-winning screenwriters.
Based on the bestselling book by Laura Hillenbrand, "Unbroken" traces Zamperini's remarkable journey from juvenile delinquent to Torrance High track star to Berlin Olympian to World War II airman to Japanese POW survivor.
The trailer provides a glimpse of what looks to be a fierce performance from newcomer Jack O'Connell as Zamperini as he survives a plane crash in the Pacific, 47 days adrift in a raft and two years of torture in a prison camp.
It's all backed by swelling music and handsome period visuals (the latter captured by ace cinematographer Roger Deakins), and drawn from a script most recently rewritten by Joel and Ethan Coen. (Richard LaGravenese and William Nicholson previously worked on the script.)
The trailer also lands with particularly pointed emotional resonance in the wake of Zamperini's passing last week at age 97.
For Jolie, a sophomore feature director, the biggest challenge of "Unbroken" may be finessing the many dimensions of Zamperini's outsize life into a movie.
"Unbroken" opens Christmas Day.