Bombs! Explosions! The fate of the free world!
BQB here with a review of Christopher Nolan’s World War II flick, “Dunkirk.”
It’s May of 1940. The Nazis have swept into France and pushed allied British and French troops to the sea. 400,000 troops await evacuation while being pinned down by Nazi fighter/bomber warplanes.
The stakes are high. The loss of 400,000 troops would be a terrible loss for the allies, hindering their chances of victory. However, Churchill has surmised that to send in Navy warships to pick up the men would be a suicide mission, essentially sinking the much needed ships.
Thus, it’s a death defying escape mission. The film switches back and forth between various parties. British Fighter Pilot Farrier (Tom Hardy) patrols the scene, shooting down German fighters and watching the backs of those on the ground below. Meanwhile, Mark Rylance plays Mr. Dawson, one of the many private citizens who volunteered to take their commercial/fishing boats into the war zone to help rescue the troops. He dukes it out with Cillian Murphy, a battle weary soldier he’s picked up who, for obvious reasons, is scared to return to Dunkirk.
Soldiers trapped in the hold of a ship hunker down to avoid the constant gunfire piercing the ship’s hull. Kenneth Branagh, the highest ranking officer on the scene, makes a lot of sullen facial expressions every time one of his subordinates delivers bad news, essentially capturing the fear that death might be certain and imminent.
If you’re looking for a plot driven film, you might be disappointed. There isn’t much intrigue. There aren’t any twists. There isn’t much in the way of getting to know the characters or their backstory. It’s basically a battle reenactment caught on film.
It’s a pretty intense ride. Nolan makes ample use of ominous music, making you feel as though a Nazi fighter pilot might drop a bomb on your head at any minute. He also works wonders with sound, the explosions are so loud and jarring you can feel them rattle you, probably the closest experience to war that can be provided through a film.
History flicks are always a risk. The general public does not want to be educated. They want to be entertained. However, Nolan earned his bones through Batman, giving him the ability to preserve this heroic tale on film, one where the military and private citizens came together in a swift, massive effort to avoid a defeat that could have been staggering.
STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Worth a trip to the theater.