Rated: PG-13 for intense war experience and some language. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: July 21, 2017 Released by: Warner Brothers
Christopher Nolan puts on a cinematic clinic in the experience of war which may play on expectations of emotions and chronology.
In the fictionalized Dunkirk the deft (three-time Oscar nominee) auteur provides vivid, visceral horror albeit far less sanguine than a masterly Saving Private Ryan using his special know-how to convey much in a short time with spare dialogue of Operation Dynamo in the early stages of World War II.
Allied forces would retreat via a mass evacuation from the titular North France beaches like a piercing, pulsating thriller (complements of Hans Zimmer's scintillating ticking-clock score).
The wicked plunge consists of dividing the action into three timelines from land (a week), sea (a day), and air (an hour) with title cards and nary any subtext. No room here for characterizations, romantic interludes or heavy orations.
An early encounter is with British infantryman Tommy (Fionn Whitehead) trying to elude fire from an 'unnamed enemy.' He's one of nearly 400,000 soldiers on the beach and joins up with fellow fighters played by Aneurin Barnard and One Direction's Harry Styles (who hold their own) looking for a way home.
Meanwhile, crossing Weymouth on England's coast is a civilian weekend sailor Mr. Dawson (Mark Rylance of Bridge of Spies) in his little 'Moonstone' sea vessel, one of many of its kind that help out in a big way.
In the perilous skies are Spitfire aircraft piloted by actors Jack Lowden and Nolan regular Tom Hardy as Farrier who expresses much with his eyes as many recall the bane of his brutal Bane in Nolan's trilogy capper The Dark Knight Rises.
Lee Smith's nifty editing intertwines the segmented triad with temporal loops and set-pieces offer much structural ingenuity that Nolan followers might equate a bit to the intricate exploration of the subconscious in Inception. It's augmented by jaw-dropping 65 mm and IMAX-dominated lensing that exudes a remarkably, mesmeric touch.
The writing may be dwarfed by the direction (as was the case with "Gravity") also a story of survival without any patriotic heroic jingoism. Disparate actors from Cillian Murphy (Red Eye) to Kenneth Branagh (Hamlet, Dead Again) are among the convocation in what is often a uniquely accomplished adrenaline rush (especially in the aerial theatre). As the metal grinds and the bombs whistle the spoken word is essential muted, but Nolan, with his talented cast and contributors make the deafening rampant terror sweepingly intimate.