DUNKIRK is the best film of the year so far (yes, beating John Wick 2 for me) and one of the most emotionally satisfying war films I have ever seen. It is mesmerizing, perfect in almost every way. It is as tense as getting a rectal exam but then hearing good news that everything is okay. If you don’t see this in a theater, wait…scratch that, if you don’t see it in 70 mm IMAX, you don’t know what you are missing. But if a real IMAX theater isn’t near you or showing it near you, try to do a 35 mm theater or a regular 70mm theater. The quality is amazing, the shots are exquisite, the colors are vibrant, and you won’t be able to get the visuals out of your head. It is just that good.
If you don’t know your history, the Dunkirk evacuation was of Allied soldiers from the beach and the harbour of Dunkirk between a couple of weeks in May and June 1940. Their ultimate rescue was hailed as a miracle. What Christopher Nolan’s film does is just brilliant. It doesn’t worry about the politics of the evacuation. It doesn’t go to places far away to show Winston Churchill commenting on the events, it doesn’t show what America or other countries were thinking/doing/fighting at the time, it doesn’t even show one bloody German in this film. The movie start with action the moment the movie starts and does not let you go thru the very nice and perfect 106 minute run time until the credits roll. We stay around Dunkirk. We show a story on land with three allied young soldiers just trying to escape the harbour, we show a story at sea with a father, his son and a friend taking a civilian boat to try and get to the beaches to rescue the allied soldiers, and we show a couple of allied pilots trying to pick off German planes before they shoot the Allied shoulders on the beach like fish in a barrel.
The movie also very delicately and masterfully plays with time, with these three stories being shown in non-linear time only to finally meet up and converge near the end of the film. It is all also beautifully scored by what is arguably one of Hans Zimmer’s best. He brings this ticking clock themed score that will literally have you leaning forward in your seat and then breathing out in relief when the music ends and the resolution of that certain scene it was used for. There is very little dialogue in the film, and you don’t know any of the backstories to these characters at all, yet the movie makes you care for them, because of the incredible acting in the dire situations that they are put in. I can’t believe Harry Stiles from One Direction plays one of the three boys, because he is incredible here. But the two who really steal every scene they are in is Mark Rylance is the father trying to rescue soldiers on a civilian boat, and Tom Hardy as one of the pilots trying to pick off German planes.
Mark Rylance gives as great of a performance as he did in Bridge of Spies here with him making calculated moves to try and not only rescue soldiers but while trying to stay alive himself in the process. And Tom Hardy is one of the only actors I know that can bring a full performance when his face is mostly completely behind a mask (the other being Karl Urban). The aerial scenes with him in the plane are the best in the film, and you can see Hardy’s torment and determination just by his eyes and facial movements. I am just glad he didn’t have the Bane voice with this one. The aerial scenes are some of the tensest and realistic, with the audience digging his/her nails into the cushion just hoping that each shot that the Allied soldiers make take out a German. I also loved the fact that they didn’t show the German’s in this. It made their presence more haunting and lethal than any main villain in a movie could’ve given us. It is always scary when the unseen and unknown is targeting you.
All the visuals here are incredible, especially when unfortunate boats gets blown up and start sinking. If anything here was CGI, I couldn’t tell in the slightest. The whole movie is just non stop enveloping tension. Entertainment and film making at the highest order. Christopher Nolan is definitely one of the best writers and directors living and when he passes on (hopefully a long time from now) he’ll be one of those cemented in history, like Hitchcock, to be one of the greatest filmmakers to ever live.
This movie is perfect. Go see it. If it doesn’t when every Oscar nomination it is nominated for it will be a shame. If it doesn’t take home cinematography, I’m done watching the Oscar’s. My only small complaint about this film would be that some of the sound is so tremendous in it that you can barely at times make out what people are saying. There was that same problem with Interstellar, so I might go see it again in 35 mm at Alamo just to take it all in again. It is definitely worth seeing multiple times in the theater. I still can’t believe how utterly great it is at running at only 106 minutes. Usually war films are wayyyy over two hours. This was refreshing. Dunkirk will probably be in the number 1 or 2 spot (we’ll see with Last Jedi) on my top ten list by the end of the year. This is precise film making at its finest. An A+ masterpiece.