Dunkirk (2017)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Dunkirk</strong> (2017)

(On Cable TV, May 2018) Writer/director Christopher Nolan rarely disappoints, and Dunkirk is no exception—after striking box-office gold and rapturous critical acclaim as often as he has, Nolan has earned the right to do whatever we want, and a recreation of the 1940 Dunkirk evacuation is just as good a starting point as any. Of course, Nolan being Nolan, it’s not quite your average war movie—Dunkirk does clever things with time in meshing, through savvy editing, three stories that respectively take place over one week, one day and one hour: they all converge during a furious climax, but the thrills are nearly constant along the way: Thanks to impressive practical re-creations and aggressive sound editing/mixing, this is a war movie that pummels viewers as much as its characters. (Seriously, the sound is top-notch—I was annoyed that Dunkirk swept the sound categories at the latest Oscars over Baby Driver, but having now seen both, I can now understand why they were in competition.)  Clearly presenting the situation, Dunkirk does hit upon most of the event’s highlights—the plight of the soldiers stuck waiting for evacuation, the role played by fighter pilots and more intriguingly the sense of duty felt by so many ordinary British citizen called upon to drive their boats to France and back in order to rescue the beached soldiers. It’s been touched upon one or twice in movie history (in my head, I can almost see Mr. Miniver somewhere in the background of the evacuation scenes) but not in this way. Otherwise, Dunkirk uses the modern panoply of action movie techniques, always in a controlled-enough fashion for maximum effectiveness rather than confusion. The editing is terrific both at a macro and micro-scale, whereas the actors distinguish themselves despite not being particularly diverse by virtue of historical demographics. Dunkirk is another solid hit for Nolan and while it may not have the conceptual giddiness of such a high-flying genre piece as Inception or Memento, it’s a solid war movie that deftly wrestle with contemporary expectations and sensibilities—never “Nazis” or “Germans”; always “the enemy”. But mostly, a movie about heroes that doesn’t always require them to kill.

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