Allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire, Canada, and France are surrounded by the German army and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II.
Christopher Nolan has produced some of the finest films of recent years, most often operating in the realm of science fiction, alongside his Batman trilogy, so ‘Dunkirk’ is a slight departure in style, focusing on the Dunkirk evacuations during WWII. His approach to the film is to drop straight into the action with virtually no set up and the film is a veritable pressure cooker of intensity, often feeling like a ticking clock thriller as the troops wait on the beaches in the hope of being rescued. I saw the film in a packed IMAX screen and it makes for a truly immersive experience where it feels like you’ve been dropped into the middle of the action, and this is one film that absolutely warrants seeing on the big screen.
The film loosely follows three strands across a non-linear timeline (that is a little confusing at first when events start to merge), comprising of a week’s action on the beach (seen mainly through Fionn Whitehead’s young soldier Tommy), a day on the sea (following a civilian boat captained by a Mr. Dawson (Mark Rylance)) and an hour in the skies (through Tom Hardy’s RAF pilot). The film is tremendously edited to cut between the different characters and events and I felt the geography of each situation was always well laid out so the audience could understand clearly how events were panning out. It’s magnificently scored by Hans Zimmer with a soundscape that feels urgent and almost overwhelming, perfectly pitched to match the pulsating, suspenseful action being depicted on screen. The scale and destruction is depicted superbly and we can really feel the horror and fear the characters are facing as they try to escape a perilous situation and it had me on the edge of my seat throughout. I couldn’t help but shed a tear at a couple of crucial moments that really spoke to the resilience and strength of the people involved in the evacuation, and it’s impressive that ‘Dunkirk’ works on your emotions without feeling manufactured. It is truly a spectacular piece of work from all involved.
‘Dunkirk’ is an outstanding cinematic achievement from a master of his craft, delivering a deeply moving and thrilling tribute to the people involved in the events depicted through a combination of special effects, cinematography, score and solid performances. It’s one of Nolan’s best films to date and it’s one of the best films of the year, and I was gripped from the outset, and completely drained by the end – see it as soon as you can!
Directed By: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles, Aneurin Barnard, James D’Arcy, Barry Keoghan, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance and Tom Hardy