Film Review: Dunkirk (2017)

Jordan Samuel Jordan Samuel
Expert Contributor
July 18th, 2017

Film Critic and Writer for ComiConverse.com, the Founder and co-host of the official Nerdcast Network Podcast

Review of: Dunkirk
Price:
Simply Thrilling

Reviewed by:
Rating:
5
On July 18, 2017
Last modified:July 22, 2017

Summary:

While being the most grounded Christopher Nolan project yet, Dunkirk is also one of the most experimental World War II films ever made. Relying more on the point of view of the men and women in the thick of the battle, Nolan crafts an historical epic in which the cinematic sweep of the visuals is matched by the emotional depth of the characters.

Review of: Dunkirk
Price:
Simply Thrilling

Reviewed by:
Rating:

5
On July 18, 2017
Last modified:July 22, 2017

Summary:

While being the most grounded Christopher Nolan project yet, Dunkirk is also one of the most experimental World War II films ever made. Relying more on the point of view of the men and women in the thick of the battle, Nolan crafts an historical epic in which the cinematic sweep of the visuals is matched by the emotional depth of the characters.

MORE NEWS FROM THE WEB

Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk (2017) is the first big budget war from the visionary director. This dark and bold dramatization of the Dunkirk Invasion pushes Christopher Nolan into his first historical film. But does it have the impact needed to be true to the real-life event? Find out as Jordan Samuel gives us the official review.

Film Review: Dunkirk (2017)

In May 1940, Germany advanced into France, trapping Allied troops on the beaches of Dunkirk. Under air and ground cover from British and French forces, soldiers were slowly and methodically evacuated from the beach using every serviceable naval and civilian vessel. At the end of this heroic mission, 330,000 young French, British, Belgian and Dutch men were safely evacuated.

Dunkirk

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Renowned, visionary director Christopher Nolan is often regarded as the most influential face in Hollywood regardless the genre as his films go from thrillers to superhero blockbusters and science-based epics.

I have the utmost respect for Christopher Nolan who directed some of my favorite films, such as 1998's Following and 2002's Insomnia. Nolan was my introduction to proper independent filmmaking with his unique blend of grounded settings and deep storytelling.

The Dark Knight (2008) is modern day classic, not only as a stellar comic book adaptation, but also as a great piece of filmmaking. Nolan placed Batman in the middle of a crime thriller boasting an inspired plot which had more in common with Heat than other superhero films. Since The Dark Knight, Nolan has brought us two immense original movies Inception (2010) and Interstellar (2014). But can Nolan do it again, with his first historical drama, Dunkirk (2017).

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Dunkirk

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Dunkirk is a mostly stripped back and experimental production, focusing on imagery instead of being bogged down in a predictable story structure. This might confuse audiences who expect a straightforward war movie or a serious historically accurate retelling of the evacuation of Dunkirk. Instead, Nolan delivers nonlinear storytelling and simple, authentic visuals.

Dunkirk's shadowy tone and nonlinear storytelling separates it from other summer blockbusters. Pushing the horrors of warfare to the forefront without being overly brutal, Nolan makes the suffering of those who lost their lives on the battlefields of WWII visceral without making the spectacle overly gory.

Nolan delivers the best war film since Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan (1998); one that is not afraid to give its audience courageous and surreal sequences instead of pretentiously loud action.

It tells a story about the terrible battle, in which 68,111 men of the British Expeditionary Force were captured or killed and 40,000 French troops were taken into captivity.

Dunkirk doesn’t skimp on the grim reality of war. Nolan keeps the tension and intensity of the battle high throughout the runtime. This keeps the story from feeling bloated and allows it to tell its own rich story that transcends the battle.

Dunkirk

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Dunkirk is based on the real-life World War ll battle. Retelling the story from the ground and air troops gives the film a person yet epic feel. Nolan manages to create the most impressive historical film in years.

While based on the historical event, Dunkirk strays away from the political and focuses on the real heroes who experienced this grueling ordeal. Opting for visual storytelling over dialog heavy sequences, instead relying on the imagery and dread the Soldiers must have gone through in the 1940s.

Nolan's script is told from various perspectives including the land, sea, and air. Nolan deftly moves between each and, because of the simplicity of the story, what could otherwise be hard to follow forms a larger storyline.

The film connects audiences with the heroes who helped save and defend their positions in a miracle event. It may be the shortest film this summer but the impactful and awe inspiring real life story sets it apart from the bombastic franchise movies released so far in 2017.

Dunkirk

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Newcomer Fionn Whitehead (HIM) is Tommy, the protagonist who doesn’t provide much dialogue but functions as the audience surrogate, giving a window into the terrible, frantic events. I was totally enamored with the physical elements of his performance: the combination of athletic running and his ability to communicate complex emotions with subtle expressions.

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Tommy might not have the most interesting backstory- but he is not portrayed as a generic, macho soldier. He is human and realistic; a normal young man caught up in an horrific historical event. Fionn Whitehead is just starting out in Hollywood. Based on his performance in Dunkirk, I will be looking for his future projects because Nolan has found a star.

Dunkirk

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

One Direction member Harry Styles makes his on-screen debut as Alex, a British Army private. Styles surprises with a grounded performance that proves he has what it takes to be more than a pop star. though he is not an Oscar winning actor, he handles his emotional sequences competently even if much of  his dialogue lacks serious weight.

Nolan gives Styles some serious acting lessons in Dunkirk. Styles' character Alex is engulfed by or submerged in water for most of the films runtime. The portrayal relies heavily on the physicality of Styles.

Dunkirk

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins) has a tough role to fill as Shivering Soldier, a man who suffers from PTSD. Murphy alternately cowers in fear and lashes out, delivering a fantastic performance with complex layers.

I would have preferred more characters like these to add more interest to the sometimes generic soldiers. Cillian Murphy  deserves attention for another solid on-screen appearance.

Dunkirk

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Tom Hardy (The Revenant) returns to the Nolanverse after being absent from 2014's Interstellar. Hardy plays Farrier, a royal air force pilot whose story is told up in the air.

Hardy does not get much screen time and spends what time he has mumbling into a walkie-talkie. Hardy is fine in the role, but he ends up being a side note for the younger cast members.

Dunkirk

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Dunkirk is a masterpiece comprised of thrilling moments that never gets bogged down with over-the-top action. The rescue ship sequence is one of the best put to film this year. The overhead fighter jets feel authentic to the time and add another layer to the fear that was prevalent on the battlefields of 1940’s France.

While being the most grounded Christopher Nolan project yet, Dunkirk is also one of the most experimental World War II films ever made. Relying more on the point of view of the men and women in the thick of the battle, Nolan crafts an historical epic in which the cinematic sweep of the visuals is matched by the emotional depth of the characters.

Christopher Nolan does it again, with brilliant and thrilling results! I recommend seeing Dunkirk in 70mm IMAX for the best experience of this visceral, accomplished film.

Dunkirk

  • 5

Simply Thrilling

While being the most grounded Christopher Nolan project yet, Dunkirk is also one of the most experimental World War II films ever made. Relying more on the point of view of the men and women in the thick of the battle, Nolan crafts an historical epic in which the cinematic sweep of the visuals is matched by the emotional depth of the characters.

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