REVIEW: Dunkirk

Dunkirk is an instant classic. It has a timeless quality to it, and feels like a movie that people will watch as long as people watch movies. It’s a simple story, well told, where the visuals and soundtrack matter more than dialogue.

The closest movie comparison for me is Mad Max: Fury Road (And not because Tom Hardy is in both), because of the way the visuals and soundtrack are used to hold high tension for an extended time. Also there are a lot of good shots of sand. A lot more water in Dunkirk though.

Tom Hardy fills the role of Movie Star here in the way Steve McQueen did back in his heyday; he’s there mostly just to be cool. There are characters but this isn’t a movie about characters. It’s a movie about war, and there happen to be people in wars, so the movie uses some of them to tell its story.

This is a war movie that makes it clear how useless a rifle is to helping a person survive in a war. Which is an aspect of the movie I really like. There’s so much going on, and individuals all seem so small and helpless. With the exception of the airplane pilots (i.e. Tom Hardy) but there the movie does a good job of conveying the limitations, difficulties and dangers of the planes. With very little explanation, very little dialogue, this movie conveys a lot.

It’s still a very clearly a Christopher Nolan movie. The story is told non-linearly. The soundtrack in credibly overbearing. But I just think those things are strengths for this movie in a way they aren’t for his other movies. The non-linear storytelling requires zero explanation, we’re just following the story through multiple characters and we see the same events from different perspectives in a way that fits the story. Here it’s not a gimmick, it’s just a good way to tell this story. And the soundtrack here can take the focus because it matters more than dialogue, they way it didn’t in say Interstellar. Christopher Nolan is still here doing Christopher Nolan things, but if I weren’t so focused on that kind of dumb bullshit I wouldn’t notice.

I just really like the craft of this movie. There are so many shots and sequences that I’m running over and over again my head admiring. It’s still probably not my absolute favorite movie of the year (I mean it doesn’t even have Spider-Man in it). But it’s definitely one of the best crafted. I have some minor quibbles: when it lets off the tension for a moment of hope it swells a little too hard for may tastes and the and there’s a trope and a metaphor at the very end that I think are kinda cheesy, but I think the movie earns those moments.

Also there’s one joke in the movie and it’s a good one.

So yea I think Dunkirk is great. I’m not sure it or the Prestige is a better movie, and I probably still like Dark Knight more because I’m a nerd. If you want a visual’s first war movie that leans heavily on its soundtrack then Dunkirk is an easy recommend. I was excited for this movie from the first teaser trailer I saw and the movie was pretty much exactly what I expected. I had a real good time at the movies.