Look, straight off the bat, this is another Christopher Nolan slam dunk. He’s one of the most reliable directors out there. When I first heard he was taking on a World War 2 film, I was like, this is guaranteed gold. The twist however is that it’s not a moment of glory, the battle of Dunkirk was a tough loss for the allies. They were forced to retreat from the beaches of France while completely surrounded by the enemy. It was so bad they were preparing for an invasion of England and had been looking at conditional surrender for their troops on the beach. It was a potential disaster with nearly 400,000 men trapped and waiting for either an evacuation or annihilation by the Germans.
As you would expect given the situation, the tension in this movie is insane. It’s full on from the start to the end… but not always on a grand scale. I’m not sure whether intimate is the right word, but you’re up close and personal with the characters and jumping from the frying pan to the fire a lot of the time.
If you’re claustrophobic you’re going to love (HATE) this as nearly everyone has a point where they are stuck in a tight space fighting imminent death. Expect drowning, bullets, bombs, torpedoes, crazy soldiers and perhaps the most full on, burning oil…In saying that, I was surprised that there’s not a lot of gore. Nolan manages to put the pressure on quite effectively with some clever use of timelines and Hans Zimmer’s score tightens the screws further.
Yes… Harry Styles was in it. Yes, he was really pretty good and no he didn’t distract too much, his role had depth and any boy band expectations about him should be left at the door. If there was any man crush to be had I would go with Kenneth Branagh’s Commander. He’s making hard choices, mixing grim determination with a genuine warmth for the troops, he’s selfless, and rocking an awesome overcoat. A total dude. Tom Hardy as a spitfire pilot pushing the plane as far as he can is probably more heroic than any Avenger. Mark Rylance is also fantastic as the ultimate Dad pushing through tragedy to do what needs to be done.
The highlight of the movie for me is the glorious Spitfire aerial shots. Let’s be honest, they’re pretty much the greatest warplane ever built, and spitfire dogfights in IMAX is coming close to the pinnacle of what those screens can offer. I could have watched a whole movie of them just flying over the channel and back.
Dunkirk is a great Christopher Nolan movie, it’s a great war movie and Harry Styles has somehow managed to pick one of the best films any boy band member has ever debuted his acting career in. It just occurred to me that I really like the idea of unsuspecting One Direction fans turning up for this. Dunkirk is a touching, claustrophobic and always intense ride. It’s best seen on the biggest screen possible.