It brings you closer to what's happening instead of a main character or something. It follows two pilots, who sort of witness all the horrible events from above, while trying to help as much as they can. The wailing of planes passing above, the drone of gunfire, and the roar of explosions all contribute to the complete immersion into the world these characters are trapped in. My favorite director Christopher Nolan? I should love this film. Superb performances from an ensemble cast? Even in the beginning of the film, the way in which the Nazi leaflets were presented gave you some glimpse into the panic and anxiety felt by those soldiers. But, Dunkirk's lack of emotional connection severely detracts from the awe-inspiring scope and technical prowess displayed.
Despite being a technical masterpiece, this is Christopher Nolan's most disappointing film yet. Harry Styles, known for being a member of English boy band One Direction, is surprisingly excellent here in his acting debut. Is this a 5-star masterpiece? I think the best thing about this storyline was the constant fear you felt for what could happen. All of these elements made me sure I would love this going in. Dunkirk is a war movie that shows three different storylines that sort of come together at the end. The second storyline is in the sky and is mostly played by Tom Hardy and Jack Lowden. Every storyline follows a certain individual in a certain situation.
I think this has to be the most emotional storyline, because you get closest to these three characters out of the whole film, but one might argue that it is also the most boring storyline, because there isn't that much fear that anything will happen to them. The feats of practical effects in this film are breathtaking. Similar to War for the Planet of the Apes, much of the film plays out without much dialogue, leaning on just the score and sound design in most scenes. The first storyline is on land and is mostly played by Fionn Whitehead, Harry Styles and Aneurin Barnard. It's incredibly disappointing that they seemed the miss the entire point of the film. It's about nameless and faceless soldiers facing an existential crisis, the possibility of randomized death, and how they can either respond with despair or hope. War is not about larger-than-life personalities with specialized weapons being bad-asses.
This is not a film about heroic soldiers triumphing against all odds while blowing up Nazis with transformer-esque explosions. Something I found really good was the chemistry between Whitehead and Styles, I think the best parts from this storyline were whenever Styles got on screen. The third storyline is at sea and is mostly played by Mark Rylance, Barry Keoghan and Tom Glynn-Carney. It almost goes without saying that Hans Zimmer delivers with another incredible score. Might as well get right to it, then. This results in some of the most immersive wartime action scenes since Saving Private Ryan. It follows a man, a son and a young assistant going off to sea to try and save some of the men stuck at Dunkirk.
The torpedoes noticed only moments before impact with it's slow monotonous movement sent chills of realization down my spine. If I reviewed based on visuals alone, this is a slam-dunk, walk-off home run of a 5-star film. This is strangely uncharacteristic of a director of Nolan's caliber, especially when you recall the complex character work in his most acclaimed films: The Dark Knight, Memento, and The Prestige. This makes it so that you can really see what happens during an event like this for multiple different kinds of people. It follows an inexperienced soldier Whitehead who is just trying to find a way out of Dunkirk, just like every other soldier at the beach. Director Christopher Nolan has, without a doubt, reached the pinnacle of on-screen spectacle here. I think I least enjoyed this storyline out of the three of them, because it felt very unpersonal and I wasn't really impressed by anything that happened during these parts.
The sound design is also extremely well crafted, which, paired with Nolan's great work behind the camera, truly transports you to the Battle of Dunkirk. Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh, and Fionn Whitehead also all give standout performances despite the limited screen time they are given. I was very impressed with Glynn-Carney's acting during his parts and I very much enjoyed it. If you want characters you can root for and a happy ending where the bad guy in vanquished, then there are plenty of movies for you. And while the subject matter of Dunkirk is fascinating, as a film it lacks emotional firepower due to the absence of a strongly written protagonist.
While the characters in this film aren't written to even remotely be compelling, the great work from this cast is not to be overlooked. The cinematography here at least, is masterful. He then picks up two soldiers Styles and Barnard along the way who he stays with for the rest of the journey. Do I love elements of this? Showing the Dunkirk Evacuation through the three different perspectives of those on the beach, the sea, and the air is only an interesting proposition on paper. While a focus on grandeur and situation over character depth and emotion may work for some it obviously worked for 98% of critics on Rotten Tomatoes , it did not work for this critic. This is a movie about scenes, not characters.
The best thing about this storyline must be Tom Hardy, since his acting was, as always, on par. This is without a doubt a cinematic achievement, but without an emotional core, it's impossible for this film not to feel cold and empty. Whereas Saving Private Ryan was engrossing as a narrative due to it's characters with depth and arcs, Dunkirk instead leans on it's subject matter and spectacle. At the risk of sounding like a contrarian, I did not love this film. . The accuracy and intensity of the dogfight was captured perfectly as well, mimicking the aerial maneuvers, firepower and damage in a realistic and dramatic fashion. Instead of focusing on a single character or single group of characters, the focus is spread across three protagonists in completely different situations.
The narrative, due to this writing choice, is spread far too thin, with few characters getting enough screen time to develop even the mildest emotional connection. . . . .