Dunkirk (2017)

dunkirk poster 2017 movie
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 10/10

Great looking movie

While accurate, the real events seem almost more horrific

Movie Info

Movie Name:   Dunkirk

Studio:   Syncopy Inc.

Genre(s):   War/Drama/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  July 13, 2017 (Premiere)/July 19, 2017 (France)/July 21, 2017 (US)

MPAA Rating:   PG-13

dunkirk plane scenes

So close yet so far

It is 1940, and British troops have been pushed to the limit in France.  The German forces have trapped them in the city of Dunkirk, and an evacuation has been ordered.  Unfortunately with planes patrolling the skies, U-boats in the water, and soldiers advancing on the front, getting out of Dunkirk is becoming harder and harder.  Tommy (Fionn Whitehead) finds himself on shore trying to escape the Nazi forces.  Pilot Farrier (Tom Hardy) patrols the skies hoping to pick off enemy planes that are targeting escaping soldiers.  Civilian Dawson (Mark Rylance), his son Peter (Tom Glynn-Carney), and a friend George (Barry Keoghan) set off to Dunkirk as part of a rescue mission…but when they meet the only surviving officer (Cillian Murphy) of a sinking ship, they learn that their mission might be in vain.

dunkirk fionn whitehead beach

Going to the beach isn’t fun

Written and directed by Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk is a historical war film portraying the British evacuation of Dunkirk, France from May 26, 1940 to June 4, 1940.  The film was released to critical acclaim, a strong box office, and won Academy Awards for Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing, and Best Sound Mixing with nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, and Best Production Design.

War movies sometimes feel like the same thing over and over again.  You know the story, you have characters fighting against the odds that might (or might not) survive the horror, and either the people you’re rooting for win or they lose.  Saving Private Ryan upped the game with very horrific and fast and furious portrayal of war, and many films have followed it that just seem to try to emulate it.  I kind of thought Dunkirk would be a film like Saving Private Ryan but was pleasantly surprised to find it different.

dunkirk mark rylance cillian murphy boat

Yeah…Mr. Boat Captain Man, I’ve been to Dunkirk, and I’m not to keen on going back

Christopher Nolan took an odd approach to writing Dunkirk.  He initially considered having the whole film improvised, but eventually wrote a minimalistic script.  The story is non-linear and focuses on three different areas of the evacuation.  It has the air dogfights as a few lone planes try to protect ships being bombed by planes, it has soldiers trying to stay alive as soldiers, U-Boats, and planes try to pick them off, and it has the civilian rescuers called upon to try to save soldiers.  Not all stories are equal (I’d say the civilian storyline is the strongest simply because it is unique to the story), but they are genuinely pretty close.

The film’s little dialogue and intentionally thin storytelling makes the movie not as much about the actors as the event.  It is this reason that the civilian storyline seems a bit stronger due to some more character development for Mark Rylance, Tom Glynn-Carney, Barry Keoghan, and the shattered soldier played strongly by Cillian Murphy.  Kenneth Branagh is the commander leading the hopeless pier evacuation and Fionn Whitehead is the “everyman” on the shore just trying to get away from the fight.  Tom Hardy plays the sacrificial hero literally above it all and having to make the decision of staying or leaving to refuel.

dunkirk tom hardy pilot

Well…looks like this could be a problem

Visually the movie is amazing.  The dog fight scenes alone put the film above a lot of other war movies (it is also interesting to look at something like Wings to see early plane fights portrayed as a contrast).  The sea rescue also provides horror along with the vastness of the beach.  It is scored with a Hans Zimmer soundtrack and some great sound editing that amps up the action.  It is also notable that all this is done with a PG-13 rating and little bloodshed seen.

Dunkirk is a war film to be remembered.  It is a defensive war film with fleeing soldiers being portrayed which alone is slightly different than more films which show glorious offenses.  The movie’s unique storytelling and visuals help escalate it above a lot of other war films of its ilk.  Nolan continues to prove himself a strong director that takes chances…it will be interesting to see what he does next.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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