Dunkirk Review
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Writer/director Christopher Nolan is known for his dark and twisting—and often mind-boggling—adventures. But for his latest film, Dunkirk, he steps away from superheroes, science-fiction, and magic to tell the story of a remarkable real-life rescue—but with his own brand of time-bending twist.

Dunkirk joins the harrowing mission to evacuate the hundreds of thousands of Allied soldiers who are trapped on the French beach during World War II, surrounded by the enemy. The film follows three stories: the story of a group of soldiers who are desperately trying to get home, the story of three British civilians who were asked to use their own pleasure boat to travel to Dunkirk and transport soldiers back across the channel, and the story of a group of fighter pilots who are aiding in the mission.

  
 
Of course, Dunkirk isn’t just another war movie. It’s a Christopher Nolan war movie—which means that it isn’t simple and straightforward. The three different stories here may play out simultaneously, but they’re running in completely different time frames—one over a week, one during a day, and one in just a single hour. So while it isn’t as overtly tangled and twisted, it’s still a puzzle—and the different timelines will definitely keep audiences thinking, working to put all of the pieces together in the right places and the right times.

At the same time, though, Dunkirk is also just an impressive war movie. It’s loud and chaotic and often absolutely devastating, and the elements work together to create a perfectly disorienting wartime atmosphere. The settings—the open water, the gray skies, the desolate, soldier-filled beach—illustrate the desperation of the situation. The carefully choreographed movement shows the scope of this overwhelming mission. And the often unsettling score helps to build the tension and unease.

At times, it’s hard to understand the dialogue—and the characters generally feel like nameless, faceless fighters. But that just adds to the film’s chaotic nature. War certainly isn’t neat and organized and straightforward—and Dunkirk isn’t, either.

It is, however, gripping and intense. Nolan weaves the stories together in a way that will sometimes make you realize that you’ve stopped breathing. Had he focused on just one of the three stories, it still could have been done well, but it may have felt like it was missing something. Here, however, he covers so many aspects of the story—the chaos, the compassion, the desperation, and the remarkable courage of those involved in this arduous rescue mission.

Dunkirk may not be as delightfully twisted as some of Nolan’s earlier films, but the talented filmmaker’s style comes through in just the right ways, making it a tense, chaotic, and mesmerizing historical thriller.


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