Video Guy reviews “Dunkirk” – First, let me acknowledge that I not only love, but I also count previews of coming attractions (maybe some of my nephew’s OCD tendencies are genetic after all). My years-old high count was for 9 previews in State College, PA. Well, I finally matched that at the Regal Valley View Cinema in Roanoke, VA, so hats off to Regal. Not that I will seek out some of the movies that were previewed ("Derry and Snowman" – I don’t need to experience heart attack-inducing horror films). I will anxiously await "Blade Runner 2049" and "Star Wars: The Last Jedi", and I might even see "The Foreigner", a new Jackie Chan thriller. The guy is legendary for the stunts he does himself.
So…"Dunkirk"…I thought I was done with war movies after "Saving Private Ryan", the brilliant if devastating Spielberg film. But…Christopher Nolan! I will see anything by this guy (unless it’s a heart attack-inducing horror film). He has already cemented his reputation as a master puzzle-maker (Momento), a superhero superstar (the Dark Knight series), and a mind-bending craftsman (The Prestige, Inception, Interstellar). Now, we see Nolan - the Realist, who has documented the heroics and miracle of Dunkirk.
The story follows several plotlines: the attempt, by one particular British soldier (Fionn Whitehead) to escape the German-surrounded French beaches of WWII; the gallant effort by a small boat owner (Mark Rylance in another terrific role), one among many, who crossed the Channel to help evacuate the 400,000 British and French soldiers trapped on the beach when large British ships could not get close enough into the shallow waters to save the men; Tom Hardy’s Spitfire-flying pilot, who chased German aircraft away from the retreating, soldier-laden boats (you may find yourself cheering). Other notable cast members are Kenneth Branagh (a British officer charged with overseeing the evacuation) and Harry Styles. Yes, THAT Harry Styles), who was excellent in the role of another soldier trying to escape the beaches.
The filmmaking itself was absolutely exceptional. From the harrowing opening sequence, to the sound and film editing, it is clear that Nolan has perfected his art. My only complaint, and it’s miniscule, is that on occasion the soundtrack nearly overwhelmed the visuals. When the soundtrack distracts from a scene, instead of enhancing it, I find that annoying. That happened, once in particular. Otherwise, WOW, with a capital WOW! Nolan has done as much with limited dialog as I have ever seen in a film. Whitehead has so few lines that one could be excused for thinking he was a shell-shock victim (and who wouldn’t be, under the circumstances). I think this film brought the horror of war home on an emotional level that even Spielberg’s film didn’t. It’s not easy to watch at times (no surprise…it’s a war movie!). But, from an intriguing plotline(s) point of view—and as a witness to top-shelf film-crafting—I recommend this one highly. Bravo, Christopher Nolan…PLEASE keep making films!