Christopher Nolan is the only filmmaker in the world who has an impeccable track record, and his latest effort is no exception.
Nolan has crafted a film that honors and serves the soldiers involved in one of the most important battles in World War II.
“Dunkirk” has an intriguing structure as it is told from three different perspectives: land, air and sea. On land, a young soldier named Tommy (Fionn Whitehead) is searching for refuge from the Germans and forms a friendship with other soldiers, including an unknown Frenchmen who is accused of being a German spy. One Direction’s Harry Styles costars as Alex, a British Army private.
On sea, Oscar winner Mark Rylance stars as Mr. Dawson, a boatman. With his son Peter and friend George, Dawson rescues a soldier trapped in the ocean (Cillian Murphy). Murphy’s character becomes hostile when he realizes the boat is heading toward Dunkirk to rescue other soldiers, and he is determined to stay out of the danger.
In the air, Tom Hardy plays a pilot who joins two other pilots trying to take down German planes in some pretty hairy dogfights. He loses both comrades and has to continue alone despite running out of fuel.
As history, “Dunkirk” is a powerful recreation of the evacuation of the people who were trying to survive and help their fellow man. As a film, it feels authentic, not artificial. It feels urgent and not inconsequential. The movie is equally effective by telling the story mostly through images and only using dialogue at crucial points. As for the war scenes, we feel we are in the thick of the action for the entirety of its 106 minute runtime.
It’s easy for a filmmaker to spray the screen with action every second, but Nolan does something more risky. He engages our senses in a visceral, immersive fashion.
It’s an exhilarating chessboard and Nolan knows how to strategically place all the pieces just right.
“Memento,” “The Dark Knight” or “Inception,” whether it’s a psychological thriller, superhero movie, or sci-fi epic that takes place in the subconscious, Nolan is a director who brings a refreshing spin on any genre he tackles.
When the Oscar nominations are announced next year, Nolan and his cast and crew better plan to wake up early that morning.
Rated PG-13 for intense war experience and some language.
Hall is a syndicated columnist in South Georgia.