Dunkirk marks Christopher Nolan’s return to cinema and it is as bombastic as one would hope. Featuring a fractured sense of story telling, a shockingly great performance from Harry Styles and some of the most breathtaking cinematography I’ve ever witnessed, Dunkirk is without a doubt one of the most solid summer blockbusters in recent memory. Despite all that is perfect with the film, it does suffer from some glaring storytelling issues that, while many may enjoy, I found to be unnecessarily tedious.
While many of you will probably hate on me for saying this, I simply have to say it: Christopher Nolan is overrated. There is no other way about it. The man has given us classics but flawed classics, at best. However, Dunkirk is a perfect response to my feelings towards Nolan. The film is extremely fast paced which is something that plagued Nolan since Batman Begins. Here, he is restrained and it pays off quite beautifully especially when you factor in the brilliance that is Hoyte Van Hoytema’s outstanding cinematography. The film is big and Hoytema’s determination is shown through every frame. He is dedicated to capturing beauty and here is no different. Hoytema serves as a very suitable replacement for Wally Pfister.
The film, while being 106 minutes long and probably Nolan’s most accessible feature to date, also is very scarce when it comes to dialog and general character development. There are very few characters here that will have you standing and cheering for. I mean, you’re going to cheer at moments in the film. It is geared to do just that. But it won’t have you gravitating towards Styles, Rylance, Hardy or Murphy. Quite frankly, they all have (with the exception of Styles) minimal screen time. Those looking for a Tom Hardy war movie better think again. This isn’t about one soldier, it is about all of the soldiers. No one is more important than the other.
Overall, Dunkirk is an exceptional addition to Nolan’s impressive filmography. Crafting a unique war film that doesn’t rely on overtly patriotic moments to move it forward is hard yet Nolan makes it seem effortless. The film relies on the courage and sheer will power of the human soul and that is something only the rarest of war films can do. Despite some wonky story telling, Dunkirk is nonetheless exhilarating and should absolutely be seen on the big screen.