Dunkirk (2017) Review

Director: Christopher Nolan

Starring: Fion Whitehead, Damien Bonnard, Aneurin Barnard, Lee Armstrong, Tom Hardy, Harry Styles, Cillian Murphy

Rating: PG-13


Dunkirk takes place in late May and early June at the tail end of a battle between the Belgian, English and French allied forces against Nazi Germany in 1940. Due to the fierce battle and attack of the Germans, all the allied forces are forced to try and retreat 140,000 troops from Dunkirk, France. Battles from the land, air and sea give an interesting take on the narrative of telling a war story.

What The Film Did Well:

Above anything else, Dunkirk feels completely authentic. It has a very real feel in terms of what war feels like. From the beginning to the end you feel like you are alongside every character in this movie and has a certain intensity about it that has the audience completely invested in this movie. Very few war films make you feel like you are there and a part of the action, but Dunkirk does this in every way. Due to the authenticity that this movie provides it drives this movie in every way possible.

You will hear it by everyone that sees this movie, it is a beautiful movie in every single way. The cinematography in this movie is stunning. There are very few movies I would watch just based on how visually appealing it is and for the cinematography alone. Dunkirk and The Revenant are the few films where I will remember it the most, not for acting, but rather how it was filmed. Hoyte Van Hoytema (Interstellar, Her) was the lead cinematographer and every shot was incredible and the shots alone make this a movie worth watching. If you can, watch Dunkirk on the biggest screen you possibly can.

Image via Warner Bros. Entertainment

The sound mixing and the score of Dunkirk was remarkable. With every sound in this movie whether it be the sound of an airplane, a bomb dropping or a gunshot it all sounds so very real. At the beginning of this movie there was a gun shot and it sounded so real that I actually jumped in my seat a little bit. The sounds in this movie are a big part of why this movie feels so real and why you feel like you are a part of the movie. The score done by Hans Zimmer (The Dark Knight, Inception, The Lion King) was one of the best in recent memory. One of the first early viewing reviews of Dunkirk that a read described this as a movie made to fit in with a symphony and that is exactly what it is.

Out of the entire cast of actors, Tom Hardy stood out the most. Hardy play Farrier, who is an allied pilot and was portrayed greatly. In almost every scene in Dunkirk, Hardy is alone on the screen and I think it takes a special type of actor to be the only actor on the screen and the movie doesn’t suffer because of it. Hardy has done this before in Locke where he was the only actor the entire movie and carries it tremendously.

Image via Warner Bros. Entertainment

One of my favorite parts of this entire movie would have to be the ending. The ending has a big focus on what life is like for soldiers when they have to return home from war and the reception they think they will get versus the reception they do get. These soldiers think they will be considered cowards for retreating, but are actually viewed at as heroes for their country because of what they had to go through and the sacrifices certain characters made throughout the movie. The final minute is a couple different shots with one of the characters reading Winston Churchill’s Never Surrender speech and I though was a terrific ca to a stellar movie.

What The Film Didn’t Do Well:

There was quite a bit that did bother me about Dunkirk, though. The character development in this movie was some of Nolan’s worst and did not get me invested in this movie the way I wished it had. I went into Dunkirk expecting it to not only be the best movie of 2017, but maybe the best war movie I’ve seen since Saving Private Ryan. It was neither of those, and I really think that other than Tom Hardy I do not care about any of these characters or their decisions. In fact, I walked away from Dunkirk not really knowing who any of the characters were.

Dunkirk is also an incredibly slow burn, which I was caught off guard by. It looks at the battle of Dunkirk Beach in three perspectives: land, sea and air. Although I thought looking at different perspectives was unique in the way to tell a story it made this movie drag from time to time. As this movie progresses you see the same events happen two or three times and took a while to get used to and stalled the movie more than it probably should have.

Image via Warner Bros. Entertainment

Going into Dunkirk all I read other than the beauty of it was how emotional it gets. This was not the case for me. I see where they wanted to tug at my emotions, but for whatever reason it did not provoke an emotional reaction out of me. I get where it tried to and this event was an emotional and tragic one, but I was not connected or emotionally invested with any part of this movie, especially the character or choices made throughout the movie.

Final Thoughts

Dunkirk is one of the more beautiful movies I have seen in some time. Although it lacks in emotion and character development, it’s still a really good movie. Since I saw the first teaser for this movie I had been excited for it and I was a little disappointed, but that doesn’t make it a bad movie. Overall it is an 8.5/10 and one of the better movies of the summer. It is a different type of war movie and Christopher Nolan deserves the recognition for having a unique take on a genre.


Image via Warner Bros. Entertainment

What do you think? Did you see Dunkirk? Is, so comment your thoughts below! What other movies do you want to see a review of? Remember to subscribe to get updates on new posts!






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