Movie Review: Dunkirk

 

It could be said that Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk,” which opens today in a variety of formats, has pretty much only three variations on the following scenes: a) Men struggling to withstand enemy fire on a beach, b) Men struggling to keep their heads literally above water as they battle the sea and c) Men huddled together in a ship struggling to do both a) and b). This isn’t meant as a criticism, however, because they are all reliably drama-packed and historically (I think) accurate. Historical accuracy is also why I spotted only one non-white soldier and two women, one of whom did manage to get in a few lines, but World War II wasn’t known for being politically correct. “Dunkirk,” is the story of how stranded British and French soldiers in 1940 at a seaside town, were rescued from being persecuted by German fighters. It’s an ensemble picture – we switch among a few key characters, though we don’t get much backstory for any of them, and most of it involves men fighting for survival. We don’t get inspiring Oscar-worthy speeches, just a lot of blood, grit and tears as the characters work together to execute a successful rescue. It’s also very loud – literally – at certain points, I could feel the explosions in my backrest.

“In peace, sons bury their fathers. In war, fathers bury their sons,” a character in last year’s “Hacksaw Ridge,” notes at one point. In “Dunkirk,” we’re introduced to a father (Mark Rylance) who takes his two young sons with him on his yacht for the purpose of rescuing British soldiers at the title site. When they rescue a stranded soldier (Cillian Murphy), he insists that they turn around, which they disregard, but not without a cost. Tom Hardy plays a fighter pilot who tries to prevent the enemy planes from doing any more harm than they already have. The crew present is doing everything it can, but for a long time, the odds appear grim. Other characters are played by Fionn Whitehead, Harry Styles and Lee Armstrong, but because of all the grime accumulated and the fact that some characters lack Christian names, I can’t say for sure who was who. However, all the cast does a solid job, and Rylance, in particular, is a standout.

At the end, when the returning veterans are sitting in a train, bedraggled but triumphant, one reads aloud from Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s speech, i.e. the famous one that begins, “We shall fight them in the streets.” The viewer may experience deja vu at this point, if the pre-film trailers include “Darkest Hour,” a Churchill biopic starring Gary Oldman, which includes this speech as well. Due to the subject matter, it’s the kind of movie where you tell people that you didn’t exactly “enjoy” it, but are glad you saw it and learned some history to boot. Just bring along a pair of earplugs if you’ve sensitive ears.

It could be said that Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk,” which opens today in a variety of formats, has pretty much only three variations on the following scenes: a) Men struggling to withstand enemy fire on a beach, b) Men struggling to keep their heads literally above water as they battle the sea and c) Men huddled together in a ship struggling to do both a) and b). This isn’t meant as a criticism, however, because they are all reliably drama-packed and historically (I think) accurate. Historical accuracy is also why I spotted only one non-white soldier and two women, one of whom did manage to get in a few lines, but World War II wasn’t known for being politically correct. “Dunkirk,” is the story of how stranded British and French soldiers in 1940 at a seaside town, were rescued from being persecuted by German fighters. It’s an ensemble picture – we switch among a few key characters, though we don’t get much backstory for any of them, and most of it involves men fighting for survival. We don’t get inspiring Oscar-worthy speeches, just a lot of blood, grit and tears as the characters work together to execute a successful rescue. It’s also very loud – literally – at certain points, I could feel the explosions in my backrest.

“In peace, sons bury their fathers. In war, fathers bury their sons,” a character in last year’s “Hacksaw Ridge,” notes at one point. In “Dunkirk,” we’re introduced to a father (Mark Rylance) who takes his two young sons with him on his yacht for the purpose of rescuing British soldiers at the title site. When they rescue a stranded soldier (Cilian Murphy), he insists that they turn around, which they disregard, but not without a cost. Tom Hardy plays a fighter pilot who tries to prevent the enemy planes from doing any more harm than they already have. The crew present is doing everything it can, but for a long time, the odds appear grim. Other characters are played by Fionn Whitehead and Lee Armstrong, but because of all the grime accumulated and the fact that some characters lack Christian names, I can’t say for sure who plays who. However, all the cast does a solid job, and Rylance, in particular, is a standout.

At the end, when the returning veterans are sitting in a train, bedraggled but triumphant, one reads aloud from Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s speech, i.e. the famous one that begins, “We shall fight them in the streets.” The viewer may experience deja vu at this point, if the pre-film trailers include “Darkest Hour,” a Churchill biopic starring Gary Oldman, which includes this speech as well. Due to the subject matter, it’s the kind of movie where you tell people that you didn’t exactly “enjoy” it, but are glad you saw it and learned something to boot. Just bring along a pair of earplugs if you’ve sensitive ears.

It could be said that Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk,” which opens today in a variety of formats, has pretty much only three variations on the following scenes: a) Men struggling to withstand enemy fire on a beach, b) Men struggling to keep their heads literally above water as they battle the sea and c) Men huddled together in a ship struggling to do both a) and b). This isn’t meant as a criticism, however, because they are all reliably drama-packed and historically (I think) accurate. Historical accuracy is also why I spotted only one non-white soldier and two women, one of whom did manage to get in a few lines, but World War II wasn’t known for being politically correct. “Dunkirk,” is the story of how stranded British and French soldiers in 1940 at a seaside town, were rescued from being persecuted by German fighters. It’s an ensemble picture – we switch among a few key characters, though we don’t get much backstory for any of them, and most of it involves men fighting for survival. We don’t get inspiring Oscar-worthy speeches, just a lot of blood, grit and tears as the characters work together to execute a successful rescue. It’s also very loud – literally – at certain points, I could feel the explosions in my backrest.

“In peace, sons bury their fathers. In war, fathers bury their sons,” a character in last year’s “Hacksaw Ridge,” notes at one point. In “Dunkirk,” we’re introduced to a father (Mark Rylance) who takes his two young sons with him on his yacht for the purpose of rescuing British soldiers at the title site. When they rescue a stranded soldier (Cilian Murphy), he insists that they turn around, which they disregard, but not without a cost. Tom Hardy plays a fighter pilot who tries to prevent the enemy planes from doing any more harm than they already have. The crew present is doing everything it can, but for a long time, the odds appear grim. Other characters are played by Fionn Whitehead and Lee Armstrong, but because of all the grime accumulated and the fact that some characters lack Christian names, I can’t say for sure who plays who. However, all the cast does a solid job, and Rylance, in particular, is a standout.

At the end, when the returning veterans are sitting in a train, bedraggled but triumphant, one reads aloud from Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s speech, i.e. the famous one that begins, “We shall fight them in the streets.” The viewer may experience deja vu at this point, if the pre-film trailers include “Darkest Hour,” a Churchill biopic starring Gary Oldman, which includes this speech as well. Due to the subject matter, it’s the kind of movie where you tell people that you didn’t exactly “enjoy” it, but are glad you saw it and learned something to boot. Just bring along a pair of earplugs if you’ve sensitive ears.

It could be said that Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk,” which opens today in a variety of formats, has pretty much only three variations on the following scenes: a) Men struggling to withstand enemy fire on a beach, b) Men struggling to keep their heads literally above water as they battle the sea and c) Men huddled together in a ship struggling to do both a) and b). This isn’t meant as a criticism, however, because they are all reliably drama-packed and historically (I think) accurate. Historical accuracy is also why I spotted only one non-white soldier and two women, one of whom did manage to get in a few lines, but World War II wasn’t known for being politically correct. “Dunkirk,” is the story of how stranded British and French soldiers in 1940 at a seaside town, were rescued from being persecuted by German fighters. It’s an ensemble picture – we switch among a few key characters, though we don’t get much backstory for any of them, and most of it involves men fighting for survival. We don’t get inspiring Oscar-worthy speeches, just a lot of blood, grit and tears as the characters work together to execute a successful rescue. It’s also very loud – literally – at certain points, I could feel the explosions in my backrest.

“In peace, sons bury their fathers. In war, fathers bury their sons,” a character in last year’s “Hacksaw Ridge,” notes at one point. In “Dunkirk,” we’re introduced to a father (Mark Rylance) who takes his two young sons with him on his yacht for the purpose of rescuing British soldiers at the title site. When they rescue a stranded soldier (Cilian Murphy), he insists that they turn around, which they disregard, but not without a cost. Tom Hardy plays a fighter pilot who tries to prevent the enemy planes from doing any more harm than they already have. The crew present is doing everything it can, but for a long time, the odds appear grim. Other characters are played by Fionn Whitehead and Lee Armstrong, but because of all the grime accumulated and the fact that some characters lack Christian names, I can’t say for sure who plays who. However, all the cast does a solid job, and Rylance, in particular, is a standout.

At the end, when the returning veterans are sitting in a train, bedraggled but triumphant, one reads aloud from Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s speech, i.e. the famous one that begins, “We shall fight them in the streets.” The viewer may experience deja vu at this point, if the pre-film trailers include “Darkest Hour,” a Churchill biopic starring Gary Oldman, which includes this speech as well. Due to the subject matter, it’s the kind of movie where you tell people that you didn’t exactly “enjoy” it, but are glad you saw it and learned something to boot. Just bring along a pair of earplugs if you’ve sensitive ears.

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