Viewed – 26 July 2017 Cinema
In 1940 WWII, allied troops stranded on the beaches of Dunkirk are slowly and methodically evacuated using every serviceable naval and civilian vessel that could be found. … whilst at the same time fearing an imminent attack.
Now I can’t say I am all that familiar with the historical aspects of this based-on-true-events depiction, so came into this blind with only the prospect of it being directed by Christopher Nolan getting me all that excited. I’d say at this stage he is one of the best directors around and for me has crafted some incredible cinematic experiences. So trying his hand at a war movie … well, someone take my money! So we get the expected awe-inspiring photography and Nolan’s usual reliance on actual practical effects where clearly no expense seems to have been spared … and when we have areal dog fights or capsized ships it’s a sight to behold I can tell you. Sad then that the surrounding events didn’t engage me as expected, not help by strangely bland characterisation that even names like Kenneth Branagh and Tom Hardy fail to elevate.
Told through the eyes of several characters; a young lad who jumps aboard a boat setting sale to bring aid to the stranded soldiers at Dunkirk beach, a wet-behind-the-ears soldier at the beach who finds himself in a group of scared soldiers trying to find safety, and Tom Hardy’s spitfire pilot … this delivered a few powerful moments of dread and excitement but is ultimately let down by a trying to be clever, non-linear structure that’s at first not apparent – resulting in confusion. Add to this a relentless over-dose of orchestral music that is tie-one’s-stomach-in-a-not intense even during relatively mundane moments and I began to think Nolan was trying to hide the fact he didn’t really have much to say. It’s an event in WWII history that was significant, but the depiction we get here made it feel like just another day in the war (apparently thousands lost their lives, not that you see much of that).
WWII caused a horrific time in world history and several movies have brought that home and showcased courage under impossible odds much better (Saving Private Ryan). So… maybe go see this for a bit of a history lesson and some admittedly stunning visuals. Stay at home if you’re expecting much else.
Verdict: 3 /5