Movie Review: Dunkirk

Dunkirk from writer director Christopher Nolan (Batman trilogy) tells the story of the mass evacuation of Allied soldiers from Britain, France, Canada and Belgium during the Second World War. Soldiers who are trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk and surrounded by the German army.  The evacuation known as Operation Dynamo took place between May 26th and June 4th 1940. Nolan tells the story from three distinct perspectives; land, sea and air giving audiences a full 360 degree immersion in the story.  Dunkirk is spectacularly shot. The opening scene introduces us to our chief character Tommy (Fionn Whitehead) who is scrambling blindly through the streets of Dunkirk.  It's after he makes his way to the beach that we see the full extent of what the soldiers are up against.  The beaches stretch for miles with thousands of soldiers stranded without cover as they wait for boats to come.  Boats that, when they do, come under heavy fire and never make it out to sea.

At sea we have Mr. Dawson (Mark Rylance) leading the charge of the civilian boats which are bound for Dunkrirk to join the rescue mission.  On board with him is 16 year old George, played by Irish actor Barry Keoghan (Love Hate) who is determined to be part of the rescue that may ultimately end his life. Mr. Dawson, quiet and steadfast sails the audience deep into the turmoil of the war raging at sea.

In the skies above Farrier (Tom Hardy) and Collins (Jack Lowden) are fighting their own war against the German planes.  Attempting tirelessly to drive off the Luftwaffe who are circling the sitting ducks, that are the men on the beach and the 'little ships' sailing to aid them. As with the battles at sea and on land there is little dialogue between the pilots.  Zimmers score provides all the tension needed for the audience to inch towards the edge of their seats.


Much of the character focus in on the lesser known or new actors such as the aforementioned Barry Keoghan, Fionn Whitehead and newcomer Harry Styles (who to be fair isn't half bad). The more mainstream blockbuster actors such as Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy very much take a back seat to the younger cast and the movie is all the better for it.

DunkirkInterestingly the movie has limited dialogue throughout. The story instead is mainly told by the dramatic action taking place in the air, at sea and on the land. These scenes are set against an incredibly well conceived score from Hans Zimmer. Dunkirk is a powerful and atmospheric piece of cinema and I suspect it will do well at the box office. I'm giving it 4.5/5.  Its powerful movie with strong performances, incredible imagery and a jarring story line. 


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