Christopher Nolan changed things up a bit this time by delving into World War II and the amazing true story of the evacuation at Dunkirk. We follow the perspectives of soldiers on the beach, the civilian boats on the sea that volunteered to help, and pilots tasked with providing air support. When it comes down to it, this is a film about the constant struggle of war and its effect on those that have to live through it. Oh, and Harry Styles from the boy-band One Direction is in it… and he’s actually good!
Without a doubt, the greatest strength of the film is the tension. Han Zimmer’s intense soundtrack combined with the screeching of incoming enemy planes is enough to get your heart pounding. The cast adds to the tension by providing very strong performances all around. Yes, even Harry Styles gives a very competent performance with his limited screen time. The visuals are impressive too. Not once did I ever think, “Oh, that’s CGI.” Everything looks real and crisp and clear. This adds to the experience by enhancing the realism. The wide shots were impressive as well. For instance, when the soldiers are waiting to board a boat off the shore and the wailing of enemy bombers slowly increases, the soldiers look up in horror one at a time. Such an effective scene.
The only flaw I could make out was the lack of character development. We never get scenes where we learn about a character’s loved ones or their hopes and dreams. I don’t even remember any of their names. This is a story of war and survival, not characters. I have no doubt that this is what Nolan was going for, but it does detract you a bit from becoming attached to any of the characters. You feel their horror as they struggle to survive the relentless attacks, but you are never given a chance to form real connections with anyone. In the hands of other directors, this could prove to be a fatal flaw, but the exceptional filmmaking skills on display are so impressive and the scenes are so engrossing that this flaw is barely even a flaw. Thankfully, the film is only 1 hour 47 minutes long. Any longer and things would get too repetitive without more character development.
Dunkirk is definitely worth a watch on the big screen. The extreme tension that builds throughout will draw you in and most likely keep you interested as long as you do not mind not knowing much about the characters as you experience their struggle.
Have you seen it? What did you think about it? Let me know in the comments.