Run time: 106 mins
Christopher Nolan’s meticulous masterpiece is an exercise in clock-work tension and staggering visual spectacle.
Save for an opening paragraph, the politics of war are all but jettisoned as we cut right to the chase, telling a lean tale of survival against all odds. Told from three perspectives (air, sea, land) and intertwining timeframes (one hour, one day, one week) Nolan drops you in the heat of battle and never lets up. It means that the story itself is a little light, making it difficult to connect with our heroes on an emotional level (the Germans, too, are reduced to an intimidating, spectral presence), but that’s because Dunkirk is going for a tangible experience; the sea air, sand and shrapnel can all be felt; it helps ground the film in a reality not many other films can match.
It’s frighteningly immersive from the very first frame; no 3D required here, just ambitious shooting techniques (high-tech cameras strapped to real Spitfires!) and a score by Hans Zimmer that’s so intense, so relentless, it’ll cause genuine shell shock that’ll linger for days. (Jack Whiting) It might be over hyped, over starry and over here. But it’s well directed and looks and sounds very real.