When it comes to modern war movies, I rarely find myself overly excited, with most feeling either generic or over dramatised. That said there is a certain Christopher Nolan movie making its way around cinemas that has caught my attention, and along with the success of Hacksaw Ridge, it certainly looks as if things are turning around for the genre. Unfortunately since leaving the cinema I haven’t got quite as an enthusiastic viewpoint on either the movie or genre, as despite being far from a bad movie, it was rather disappointing in comparison to the director’s prior work.
Christopher Nolan may very well be cementing himself as one of the best writer/directors in the business today, but for me he misses a step with Dunkirk. Despite capturing the tone and feel of this thrilling evacuation mission, the director fails to give us anything memorable, with the narrative as a whole merging together into one gigantic experience. Now this isn’t entirely a bad thing, far from it. But if anyone asked, “what was your favourite part of the movie?” I’d honestly not know how to answer. That said Nolan does get a lot right in this movie, with the visuals being simply stunning. Having a sleek, yet ageing look, the movie certainly feels authentic to its time period, with the musical score of Hans Zimmer complementing this beautifully.
Like a lot of Nolan‘s projects, we are treated to an ensemble cast, including the likes of Tom Hardy (Farrier), Cillian Murphy and Kenneth Branagh (Commander Bolton), as well as rising stars Fionn Whitehead (Tommy), Tom Glynn-Carney (Peter) and One Direction singer Harry Styles (Alex). Though the familiar faces all give stellar performances it is the younger cast that generally impress most, with the reserved performance of Whitehead and more dramatic scenes involving Styles being thoroughly captivating. The standout performance, on the other hand, comes from Mark Rylance (Mr. Dawson) with the calming voice responsible for bringing The BFG to life last year being a source of hope and inspiration.
Though there is a lot to criticise about Dunkirk, there is also a lot to praise with the sheer terrifying nature of this predicament being clear as day. The decision to split the narrative over three different perspectives also helps bring a unique feel to this World War II movie, as despite converging at one point or another, there isn’t one that feels similar to another. Nevertheless the lack of characterisation does make it hard to feel any form of connection with the characters, as despite our cast conveying the hardships felt during this horrific period, it is hard to look at them as anything more than another wartime soldier. Which in a way is probably the idea behind this.
Dunkirk is a visual spectacle, but one that is lacking in a compelling plot or character. Giving us three unique perspectives on the evacuation of the Allied soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk, the cast and crew capture the terrifying conditions of this miraculous operation perfectly. Even if there isn’t any particularly memorable moments during this.
(7 / 10)