“Dunkirk” stars Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, and Tom Hardy. Released on July 21, 2017, the film showcases the Dunkirk evacuation during the early stages of World War II.
The film is directed by Christopher Nolan, who also directed films such as Following, Memento, Batman Begins, Inception, and Interstellar. When it comes to cinematic experiences, no one is more passionate about them than Christopher Nolan himself. Nolan is one of the few directors that wants to keep the art of theatrical experiences alive, and his latest project looks like it’s going to help him continue that quest. Not only that, but he’s mostly known for creating and directing stories that are just as groundbreaking and stunning as the visuals and the cinematography. There are a few films from him that I really liked, including my personal favorite, The Dark Knight. I still have mixed feelings about his last film, Interstellar, in terms of its sound mixing and running time, but it was visually impressive regardless. For this film, Nolan is taking his audience all the way back to 1940, during World War II, where Operation Dynamo was constructed to evacuate allied soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk in order to avoid the German army. With this type of concept at the hands of one of the most popular directors in film history, it’s no surprise that people think it’s going to be a hit…and unsurprisingly, it is. So, what’s my take on this latest war film? Well, all I can say about it is that it’s a roller coaster filled with eye-opening thrills and non-stop suspense.
The overall story in “Dunkirk” is a never-ending barrage of intense sequences. Once the film starts, the action starts along with it, and it never lets up until the very end. The Dunkirk evacuation is told in three perspectives (land, sea, and air), which are presented in a non-linear narrative. It can get a bit confusing in the beginning for first-time viewers, but as the film went on, they might be able to put the pieces together. Like Nolan’s other films, the story is once again riveting for capturing the characters’ realistic experiences of getting caught in this terrifying situation. The non-linear aspect in the film was handled remarkably by Nolan as he managed to keep things simple and thorough without losing track of the story itself. My only gripe with the story is the characters themselves. If you’re expecting this film to focus on both the characters and the action, then I’m afraid that you’re going to get the latter. The film only shows the “during” and the “after” events of the Dunkirk evacuation, and it doesn’t stop for a few seconds to let us get to know the main characters that are in this predicament. I guess it’s because that I’m familiar with a couple of war films that focus on developing the characters before, during, and after the war sequences, like Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge. I can understand what Nolan is going for and I appreciate it, but I would’ve liked it even more if he developed the characters a bit more before the evacuation began. That way, it’ll increase the emotional depth of the film when someone that the audience cared about is either injured or dying. Despite its lack of character development, the cast offered some great performances that successfully brought them to life, including newcomer Fionn Whitehead as Tommy, Mark Rylance as Mr. Dawson, and Tom Hardy as Farrier. In terms of its technical aspect, this is definitely one of the most realistic and captivating war experiences I’ve seen on the big screen since Hacksaw Ridge, even though it is rated PG-13. The cinematography is brilliant for capturing the experience as seen through the eyes of the audience, and the sound editing and sound mixing are flat-out perfect for making them feel like they’re part of the war themselves. Sure, it’s loud in some occasions, but that’s what war sounds like. It’s flipping loud! The action sequences were well-shot and thrilling, especially the air scenes, proving once again that the action can be just as cool without the overabundance of CGI.
Overall, Christopher Nolan’s latest project, “Dunkirk”, is a non-stop, rip-roaring cinematic experience that is also well-acted and marvelously-directed. It doesn’t top The Dark Knight as my favorite Nolan film due to its lack of character development, and I’m a little bit concerned that people who wanted a character-driven action film might wind up feeling a bit disappointed. Nevertheless, I found it to be a fun and engaging ride from beginning to end due to its cast, Nolan’s solid direction, its cinematography, the action sequences, and its superb uses of sound editing and sound mixing. If someone were to ask me which perspective I liked the most, I would say the air perspective, mostly because of the cinematography and Tom Hardy fighting off enemy planes. It looked pretty darn cool compared to the other perspectives, but that’s just me. Fans of Nolan’s filmography should definitely check this film out, especially on the big screen or in IMAX.