Tony's Take

DUNKIRK review

When 400,000 Men Couldn’t Get Home, Home Came For Them

One of the most heroic and unlikely events of World War II is showcased in Christopher Nolan’s newest film, “Dunkirk”.  A group of 400,000 Allied soldiers, consisting of French, Belgian, Canadian, and mostly British soldiers, were surrounded in Dunkirk, France by the German army, pushing them to the beaches.  The film follows three distinct vantage points of Operation Dynamo, from the beaches where the soldiers were trapped, from the air as pilots attempted to fend off German advances, and from the sea.  As the men endured countless attacks, their attempts to evacuate the beach were constantly met with failure.  With certain death staring the soldiers in the face, they were left hopelessly-waiting for a savior.  What transpired is one of the greatest tales from World War II.  The rest of the film follows their story.

Fionn Whitehead stars as a young British Army Private, Tommy.  Damien Bonnard plays a young French soldier.  Aneurin Barnard plays a soldier named Gibson.  Barry Keoghan plays a young citizen named George.  Mark Rylance plays a man who sets-off on his boat to help, Mr. Dawson.  Tom Glynn-Carney plays his son, Peter.  Tom Hardy plays a Royal Air Force pilot named Farrier.  Jack Lowden plays fellow Royal Air Force Pilot, Collins.  Kenneth Branagh plays Commander Bolton, the highest-ranking official at Dunkirk.  James D’Arcy plays a fellow leader, Colonel Winnant.  Cillian Murphy plays a young, shell-shocked soldier known as “shivering soldier”.  Harry Styles plays a young British soldier named Alex.  Christopher Nolan’s uncle and cousins also have minor roles in the film as well.

“Dunkirk” uses a naturally-tense story and combines it with interesting characters, different vantage points, a pulse-pounding score, and grandiose sequences to give us one of the very best films (and cinematic experiences) of the year!  The film is led-by its’ strong, authentic performances all-around.  Newcomers Whitehead and Styles (yes, Styles!) are both compelling and genuine, carrying much of the film.  Also giving excellent performances are Rylance, Lowden, Murphy, Branagh, D’Arcy, and Keoghan, as well as the rest of the cast.  Adding in both the intensity and uniqueness to the film, “Dunkirk” is told in three separate-but-converging story lines with very little dialogue, with just the score and the events of the film in-between lines.  The film’s score, from the great Hans Zimmer, also proves to be a great instrument of intensity, using Nolan’s own pocket watch to incorporate the sound of a ticking clock throughout.  Also, surprisingly, adding to the intensity is how harrowing the film is, especially without the presence of blood and gore.  As one would expect with Nolan’s films, “Dunkirk” relies-heavily on the use of practical effects.  Real life boats and planes were used for the shooting process, as well as 12 of the actual boats used to rescue the soldiers from Dunkirk!  Incorporating the incredible events, the cinematography does a beautiful job showcasing the film’s wide focus, featuring some of the most stunning sequences that were shot with IMAX camera.  All of these contributions combine to make one of the most visually-stunning and beautiful war films ever made!  “Dunkirk” should definitely be seen on the biggest format possible and in 70mm IMAX where available!  “Dunkirk” is Nolan’s shortest film in years, clocking in at 106 minutes; never slowing-down and relentlessly keeping your attention.  It’s not very often a film such as “Dunkirk” comes around, but Christopher Nolan has combined some of the finest film-making tools to make both a visual and intellectual masterpiece; one of the great war films ever made!   “Dunkirk” is a ferociously-intense and thrilling cinematic tour de force, a masterclass in film-making from a man who is clearly at the top of his game!

“Dunkirk” portrays the incredible events that transpired after 400,000 soldiers were trapped on the beaches on Dunkirk, only 26 miles from home.  The film features incredible visuals with a pulse-pounding score, a series of great characters, and an interactive and engaging story.  If you are going to the movies this weekend, make sure you see “Dunkirk” in the largest format possible!!

 5/5

DUNKIRK is rated PG-13 for intense war experience and some language, in theaters JULY 21ST!

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