In 1940, hundreds of thousands of Allied troops are trapped on a French beach by the German army during World War II. As soldiers wait for rescue, the British forces struggle to send adequate reinforcements and boats to take their troops to safety. English civilians are enlisted to help, and Dunkirk imagines what it would have been like to be in the thick of such an intense stand-off.
RATED: Dunkirk is rated M for mature themes, violence and coarse language.
AUDIENCE: Writer-director Christopher Nolan is a household name, so fans of his Dark Knight movies, Inception and Interstellar will be keen to see what he does with a more “realistic” story. Dunkirk will also appeal to you if you like war movies, especially those made during the 1950s and 1960s.
WHAT’S GOOD: Without creating an entirely new way of telling a story up on screen, Christopher Nolan has combined so many unusual elements in Dunkirk that it feels like something you’ve never seen before. With limited dialogue and no clear focus on any one character, Nolan’s ode to one of the most famous WWII evacuations uses incredible sound design, shifting perspectives, and minimal fanfare to give audiences an “experience” of terror-inducing combat. The violence isn’t as in-your-face or gory as many other war movies, yet Dunkirk manages to have the impact of the first 20 minutes of Saving Private Ryan – sustained across a whole movie.
WHAT’S NOT: While it is commendable that bigger names in the cast like Tom Hardy or Cillian Murphy don’t dominate proceedings, Dunkirk does slump (at points) due to its lack of traditional components and movie-making techniques. Without a clear hero or villain (or main character, for that matter), you might struggle to stay orientated with Nolan’s war salute. Also, the lack of a major story arc, character development or clear point can be frustrating, as Dunkirk unfolds rather than surges to a specific goal or message.
SPIRITUALLY SPEAKING: Dunkirk’s approach to bravery and cowardice is memorable, largely because the film effortlessly displays how hard those things can be to do define. People don’t tend to be either good or bad, strong or weak, selfless or selfish; we’re all a mix of both. With significant themes of life, death, hope and salvation flowing throughout this war movie, the final moments offer a surprisingly strong note about where the ultimate rescue comes from. Dunkirk isn’t trumpeting a Christian message but it does finish with an unexpected pointer to the eternal salvation held out by Jesus Christ (in contrast with the temporary rescues from evil which may come our way, in this life).
RELEASE DATE: Now showing