The greatest war film ever made?
Not even close. BUT still a bloody good watch.
Allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire and France are surrounded by the German army and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II.
Did hype hinder on Nolan’s latest endeavour? Isn’t that always the case, I hear you say? Scandalous!
The opening act had me on tenterhooks. It was tense, exhilarating and Hans Zimmer’s score. That score!
I loved how the lesser known faces took centre stage. Fionn Whitehead was superb as the exhausted Tommy. Desperate to get home. Evading gun fire and fighting for a spot at the port.
The crazy planning behind the withdrawal strategy was shocking. Sending only one ship at a time with a goal of securing a realistic number of men; “We need our army back!”
As much as you understood Commander Bolton’s frustration, Kenneth Branagh literally stood on a pier looking across at the cliffs of Dover. Really? He looked dashing doing it BUT was that it?
It was still daunting watching the troops wait in fear as the German forces knew they had the upper hand. The planes creeping in the clouds. The Jaws of the sky line. Waiting to strike. Picking off their prey.
The dread. Bombs flying, torpedoes slithering across the waves. Mental. I couldn’t imagine what I would do in a situation like that.
Nolan captured the claustrophobia of it all perfectly from the confined Spitfires to the overcrowded boats. Speechless.
I say lesser known, in the context of film, Harry Styles . . . Well, I can’t believe I’m saying this.
He was very good in the role. At first, I thought; “Oh God. Why is he in this? Gratuitous cameo, I see”. BUT the popstar actually had to do some acting. And he didn’t do bad at all.
It was the middle act where I felt my attention wading. The tension left to cook on the back burner. That score, that score!
Whether it was the cinema speaker system, it soon went right through me. Pounding against my head. It was almost comical. Seriously, I couldn’t hear what the characters were saying.
It felt like one of the soldiers was following the gang about with a giant drum! Come on, now. There was only so much the soundtrack could do to make sitting in the sand and staring into space tense and brooding.
Of course, Dunkirk couldn’t completely conform to a mainstream narrative. It wouldn’t be a Nolan movie otherwise.
His renowned fragmented time frame left me a little confused. The penny should have dropped from the beginning. Each sequence titled: “The Mole: One Week, The Air: One Hour and The Sea: One Day”.
In a nutshell, we followed the various troops as they endured a week on the beaches, an hour in the air and a day at sea.
At first, the flicking back and forth was a little disjointed and baffling. Especially when we encountered a shell-shocked Cillian Murphy in one scene, then a cool and composed one in the next frame.
It should have dawned on me when one scene was set in the day and the other in the night. Hoyte Van Hoytema’s cinematography was outstanding.
Apart from that little niggle, the time frame worked well. Especially during the finale as each location came to their thrilling conclusion.
Tom Hardy’s story line was riveting once it going. And wasn’t it nice of Nolan to make him wear yet another mask. Thankfully I could understand him this time.
All the fuel gauge and co-ordinates talk was a little mind numbing for me. BUT once the pilot encountered the enemy, I was transfixed.
Mark Rylance was brilliant in the minute role of Mr Dawson. A civilian who answered the call of duty to help bring our boys home.
The toll of war encapsulated in the traumatized and “appropriately titled” Shivering Solider (Cillian Murphy).
From all the endless praise and hype, I expected something along the lines of Saving Private Ryan (My favourite war film). I know it’s tough to compare war stories and events BUT Dunkirk did stumble with the pacing.
However, the final act was where this movie really won me over and brought it home. Heart breaking and uplifting in the same moment as the defeated soldiers returned home. Fearing they would be spat on and branded cowards for their failure.
The overwhelming support and unity as everyone pitched in was a sight to behold. Something that seems to be missing in these dark times. A polite reminder with Churchill’s iconic speech.
A little over-hyped BUT still one of the better ones.