‘Dunkirk’ tells the story of the allied soldier’s from Belgium, the British Empire, and France who are surrounded by the German army and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II.
One of the best writer/director’s of our time in Christopher Nolan’s take on the catastrophe that was Dunkirk is a film that he should be proud of — it’s powerful and well crafted, which should be no surprised considering the team behind the film. It avoids “war porn” of any sorts, showing little to no blood whatsoever, and piecing together the events of what happened in the typical Nolan-esque way that he uses time.
What can be disagreed with, however, is many reviewers and members of the general public calling ‘Dunkirk’ Nolan’s best film so far. Yes, it’ is an amazing feat Nolan accomplished, managing to interweave multiple story lines occurring at different points over various lengths in time (one even over the space of an hour while others taking up to a day) while it all making sense, however, it felt that there was something lacking in it all.
Nolan employed the kind of editing that was used in ‘Memento’ and ‘Inception’ in the jarring jumps from midday to pitch-black instead of the cross-cutting that may be traditionally used. While strange at the beginning, it begins to make sense. If anything, even when it’s not as mind-bending as Nolan’s previous work, ‘Dunkirk’ is still something makes you think as you try and piece things together. Editing is supposed to heighten the tension of what the Allies face but instead, there’s no transition between seemingly linked images even in the same plot lines and becomes lost, without any real sense of structure whatsoever.
The film itself didn’t grow in tension and instead, was one steady line of drama with at times feeling eternally frustrating at how long it takes for some events to take place. In his attempts to create tension, there’s not enough time for us to be with the character’s or their respective story lines. What was most frustrating about Tom Hardy’s air pilot was in him not circling back to land upon the beach to then catch a lift back home or defend from the skies for a little longer before landing at Dunkirk instead of doing what he did in traveling further up the coast to land his aircraft and then captured.
The sound design is something that needed to be seriously worked upon as with the design paired with Hans Zimmer’s score, it got to the point where it was deafening and in dire need of earplugs.
‘Dunkirk’ is great in it’s own right but to be deemed as one of the best war films to date is a little much. Something that can’t be ignored is the amazingly brilliant five minute one shot from Joe Wright’s ‘Atonement’ on the beach of Dunkirk that encapsulated what it was like to be a soldier on that beach; or the classic ‘Saving Private Ryan,’ which, in any respect, would be a hard film to surpass in terms of brilliance and greatness.
While it may be his best in some respects, it still fails to be as brilliant, awe-inspiring, and a topic of conversation for years to come like his previous efforts in ‘Inception,’ ‘Memento,’ ‘The Prestige,’ ‘Interstellar,’ and ‘The Dark Knight Trilogy.’ Nolan’s films of the future are still something to look forward to and will be interesting to see what comes next.