Dunkirk (2017)

Capsule Review

Dunkirk is a retelling of the incidents surrounding the Allied evacuation of France at Dunkirk in World War II. It is an intense war drama that is less graphic than the first 30 minutes of Saving Private Ryan, but just as compelling. There is wartime violence, and it’s rather intimate, and great in its way.

Strongly recommended if you like movies of this type.

Standard Review (with some minor spoilers):

Without going into too much detail, Dunkirk focuses on several soldiers, mostly, all  part of the forces trying to escape France. The Axis powers have encircled them on the land, and there’s no escape, except via the English Channel. You’d think it’d be straightforward, but it’s not such a simple task when there’re several hundred thousand of you!

It’s a bit confusing, at first, but it mostly focuses on several individuals. Commander Bolton (Kenneth Branagh) is the naval officer in charge of the evacuation. Cillian Murphy plays a soldier who is rescued at sea. Civilians with boats were asked to surrender their boats, but Mr Brown (Mark Rylance) just leaves England with his boat, and two shipmates to help him. He and his crew more or less form the core of the film. There are a lot of characters to remember, but you don’t really need to, in order to follow the story.

This is a film that’s told Rashomon style, covering some of the same events from different perspectives. It really seems authentic, and there are some nuances that many war films of this type get horribly wrong. The plot’s a bit confusing until you get into the rhythm of the film. You should eventually catch on, though. In an interesting twist, the Axis power soldiers at all. The primary focus is on the British.

I have to comment on how powerful this movie is. It winds you up and practically never gives you a release. Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack drives the movie’s tension, which intensifies throughout the movie. It’s a vital component to this excellent war drama. I noticed a couple of people in the audience who were literally on the edge of their seats throughout. After the credits started, I even overheard several guys mansplaining the events around the evacuation of France to their partners and friends. Be prepared for that.

This film is one of the great war films that will probably stand the test of time. I’m probably overstating that, but right now, it’s what I’m feeling.