The story of Dunkirk from World War 2 deals with heroism. It examines the brave and selfless acts of the citizens who were called to aide the British Navy with a rescue mission of over 200,000 soldiers who were stranded (and surrounded) on the beach of Dunkirk. As the German forces continued their assault on the soldiers from both land and sky, the military men did the best they could to survive long to be extracted. So, does “Dunkirk” the movie deliver on the dramatic and horrifying realties of war or should it be washed out to sea? Let’s dive in and take a look…
Christopher Nolan directed this film and to my surprise it’s under two hours long. The official run time for this movie clocks in at 1 hour and 46 minutes. I can honestly say that under two hours is perfect. The story begins with soldiers walking through a deserted street (as seen in the trailers) and then gun fire starts and the intensity builds from there. The manner in which the story is told was a bit confusing at first as it jumps around in time. However, about 15 minutes it everything made sense and it was easy to figure out where in the timeline we were as the multiple stories eventually tie together. That aside, this movie will keep you on the edge of your seat, from start to finish. The opening scene in “Saving Private Ryan” is intense. This movie is similar to that opening. The entire story is similar to that introduction. There are brief moments that allow you to exhale a sigh of relief but it’s back to edge of your seat and tension mounts and the stress builds almost immediately. This is the most enjoyable stress you will have in theaters this year.
I will say that my only real negative critique on this film is character development. We don’t really get a sense for the characters but that’s ok in this particular instance. The point, I feel, is to experience survival and heroism. This isn’t a film about individuals. We get to examine the cost of war. We examine what it means to be brave, to fulfill duty, to be there when called on and to survive. If time was spent on getting us to understand or care for characters who were most likely going to die, the movie would’ve been much longer. This is direct and to the point. Christopher Nolan does a great job at getting the actors to understand their motivations so that we don’t need it explained to us. We get to see it, first hand. In short, the cost of war is great and we are given a front row seat in which to view it. As events unfold, as characters survive or die, as normal individuals become hero’s and hero’s need saving, you will be on the very edge of your seat for it all.
“Dunkirk” is in theaters now! I recommend you see this on IMAX. Spend the extra bucks and get to IMAX. If you don’t have an IMAX screen near you, get to the largest screen possible. The wide open shots in this movie show incredible landscapes and oceans. There are close ups on characters but there’s also scenes where the camera is so far back you get a real sense of how small the airplanes are that are engaged in combat above the water. This movie looks incredible. The story is fantastic. The characters, while we don’t really get to know them, are all wonderful in the parts they are playing. If I can recommend anything beyond simply seeing this movie it’s make sure to get a bucket of popcorn. This is definitely a “shove popcorn into your mouth while never taking your eyes off the screen as you sit at the edge of your seat” type of film. I loved my time in the theater with this story and the characters. “Dunkirk” has knocked “Baby Driver” from #1 to #2 for my Top 10 films this year. Go see this film in IMAX (or whatever your largest screen is). Go now!