Contains Spoliers. Having received high praise from critics and reviews, I went in expecting a lot. From a story telling angle, I was curious how they were going to make what is essentially a (necessary) retreat into a compelling story.
The first seconds of the film are great scene setting: a squad of soldiers is walking through empty streets. All of a sudden they come under fire and flee. One by one the men are shot as they run; a single soldier manages to escape. Within seconds the audience is imbued with a sense of loss, loneliness and the nearness of danger.
The cinematography was good, and I agree the story line showed the spectrum of human responses of justifiable fear and bravery. The use of sound – and absence of – was great. (I must be getting old, because the volume it was played at in the cinemas was actually a detraction from my enjoyment. I think this is a trend in all the movies I have seen lately. Logan was so loud the sound was actually distorted).
It was only later that night I worked out the time scales in the movie. Early on it shows “Land: 1 week”, “Sea: 1 day” and “Air: 1 hour”. I take it to the mean that the story is a blending of those three timescales, given that the airforce pilots were ordered to fly low “to allow 40 minutes ‘fighting time’ over the beaches”. This is not made particularly clear to the audience, probably to not hamper their experience.
It also had no blood (or very little), which was interesting. I can only assume that was a conscious decision to avoid so-called “war porn”, and focus on the story instead of the brutality.
I’d summarise it as a worthwhile representation of Dunkirk. As a movie though, I didn’t find it particularly engaging. I wasn’t emotionally invested in any of the characters or their plight. It’s certainly not a movie I would re-watch any time soon (in contrast to Hacksaw Ridge or Enemy at the Gates). I’ve give it a 7 out of 10.