Dunkirk (2017)


Cast includes: Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies), Tom Hardy (The Revenant), Kenneth Branagh (Valkyrie)
Writer/Director: Christopher Noland (Interstellar, Inception)
Genre: Drama | History (104 minutes)


Huffington Post

The streets are deserted as British soldiers wander through. Leaflets falling from the sky warn, “We surround you. Surrender and survive.” There is sporadic machine gun fire picking off soldiers… only one manages to escape and find his way to the beach. This is Dunkirk, where the retreating British army finds its self with their backs to the sea while the German army attempts to finish them off. We see the wide, expansive beach with rows and rows of (hopefully) evacuating soldiers. From the air, Germans continue to relentlessly bomb and strafe these sitting ducks. There are British ships in the Channel, but the beach is so wide and shallow, few can get close enough. At the pier, a couple of soldiers who fail to make it on to a ship hide out in the timbers below the pier. From there, they overhear a conversation between Commander Bolton and his lieutenants. There are over 400,000 soldiers on the beach. Even though they can see home across the Channel, Bolton estimates they can only evacuate 30-45,000… leaving the rest to be captured or die. There aren’t enough small boats to ferry the soldiers out to the naval ships off shore. Meanwhile, the bombing continues.

In England, the yacht Moonstruck has been commandeered for the rescue. Mr. Dawson, George and Peter load up the life vests and set off for Dunkirk. They rescue one soldier from a wreck at sea, but have to fight with him when he adamantly opposes going back to Dunkirk. “We’ll die!” “He’s a coward,” George says. “He’s shell shocked, George. He’s not himself. He may never be himself again,” says Mr. Dawson, who seems to know a thing or two about war. In the meantime, torpedoes sink ships full of rescued soldiers. The chaos is intense, and the whole time there’s an unrelenting throbbing, vibrating, pounding, roaring, screeching soundtrack that gives moviegoers the feeling of struggling for survival. Sometimes it’s hard to tell friend from foe, but the hum of the Roles Royce engines helps Mr. Dawson identify British Spitfires that thankfully manage to shoot down some of the German planes… but not enough. It’s only a matter of time before they get hit themselves or run out of gas. The most welcome sight of all is when the “fleet” of civilian vessels… yachts, fishing boats, working boats, row boats… arrive from England to evacuate soldiers… in the end, rescuing far more than anyone could have imagined.

The stars of the movie Dunkirk are really the special effects, soundtrack and art direction. It’s not-stop intensity from beginning to end. While the film has won high praise for putting moviegoers in the middle of this historic moment, some may find it lacking a coherent story. The entire plot summary could be given in a single sentence... some moviegoers might wish for more depth or information. The focus is on the kinetic activity at the moment of greatest danger. Adding to the chaos is the non-sequential time frame... constantly jumping around… daytime, nighttime, stormy seas, calm seas, etc. The film’s barely perceptible plot is overwhelmed by the chaos. That said, many moviegoers will come away feeling satisfied after surviving nearly 2 hours of pounding action… and that may feel like accomplishment enough.

popcorn rating

2 popped kernels

In WWII, when the British army didn’t have the ability to evacuate their army from Dunkirk, civilian vessels came to the rescue

Popcorn Profile

Rated: PG-13
Audience: Young Adults
Gender Style: Bold
Distribution: Mainstream Wide Release
Mood: Sober
Tempo: Pure Adrenalin Rush
Visual Style: Computer Effects
Nutshell: Escape from Dunkirk
Language: True to life

Social Significance: Informative

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