It is an intensifying combat thriller that keeps ante go up from the word go. As many of his films, this film too does not give space to breathe or blink it moves at such rapid pace that there is always a fear of losing the track of narrative in a moment and before we take a sigh, the film comes to a closure. It is always fascinating how he writes such elaborate stories and puts them in such a tight screenplay.
This is a story of solidarity and how civilians helped the army in one of the biggest evacuations of history. But, it's the depiction that needs to be credited in a big way. All thanks to Christopher Nolan. He took three landscapes, the land, the sea, the air and put them in three different timelines and that is when he won my heart as a writer-director. It is indeed a bold attempt but with the experience of films like Inception he knows how to pull it off and indeed he did it with ease.
"The tensest beach-set film since Jaws", I read in another review and I totally agree with that. The film is set over the sea the beach and only in the first few minutes and at the end, some interiors of Dunkirk and a train journey are shown, rest all is on the beach, or above the sea. This set piece made this film more interesting and equally challenging to watch.
The acting by the ensemble cast is terrific. There is a lot of authenticity in their accent and their demeanor, French look French and the British look British. The politics behind the war are given their due although in a subtle way and it's those orders that determine action on the ground. Everything together was engagingly put in the narrative. The writing made space for more action than reaction and that makes this film special. I like those war films like "Saving Private Ryan", "Hacksaw Ridge" where a lot of action takes place with less reaction and this film is among those.
The last few minutes where the combat ends, there is a newspaper reading, I did not sit there to see how those were made heroes by media, they were heroes for what they did and perhaps that reading could have been cut out. This is just my personal opinion.
The film is brilliant in all ways possible but there should be a special mention of Hans Zimmer who gave a terrific background score and the film more engaging that it is. Watch the film without the score then, half the life seems to have taken out. I muted a couple of times to check and it was missing impact. Thaks to the genius of Zimmer for taking this film a level above a typical war film.
A 4/5 for a superbly made war film. Nolan gets back to his writing like he did for his earlier masterpieces.