Is it true that Dunkirk is an assemblage of every United Kingdom actor to ever grace the silver screen with his presence? I would be hard-pressed to recount another two hour period wherein I was assaulted with more accents from more places in my entire life. What does this all mean? Britain's got talent!
Dunkirk is a good, borderline great motion picture. However, and there is always a but, it feels like a microcosm of what should have been a macrocosm. In its limited approach, Dunkirk fails to leave a lasting impression. Director Christopher Nolan could have just as easily directed Tom Hardy in a propeller plane for two hours and I would have voted for him to win an Oscar.
Dunkirk is instead a building of several storylines with confluences or almost-confluences that never quite live up to their buildup(s). Nolan serves up blood, guts, and gore, but it rarely feels entirely macabre or gut-churning. One wonders if there were budget deficits that prevented the directorial team from assembling all of the machinery and manpower that they required to make war seem like hell as opposed to Final Destination.
While seeking to portray the sheer gruesomeness of the Germans pushing desperate British and French soldiers into the sea, Dunkirk feels more like an exciting war movie than an epic war story. Perhaps that is because Nolan chose to let the action speak volumes while allowing for only a limited dialogue.
The dialogue in Dunkirk bears mentioning as well. Aside from a masked Tom Hardy who sounds so much like Bane from Batman that a chuckle is in order to break the tension of the movie, many of the characters utter only a few sentences each during their entire time on screen. The only character that seems to have enjoyed any meaningful dialogue is Sir Kenneth Branagh as Rear Admiral Bolton, the prophetic and courageous (and semi-fictitious) British commander that would stay at the Mole until the bitter end.
What did I enjoy about Dunkirk? Not the meandering and often poor retelling of history, that's for certain. I enjoyed the spirit of courage the soldiers felt out of necessity amidst sheer horror and almost certain death. The creation of a fateful war movie on three fronts, by land, sea, and air intrigued me. One must give Nolan credit for attempting to render Dunkirkan historical epic movie, but it may well have too much Hollywood director, and not enough historical value; I write that at the risk of making the movie sound as though it should have been more History Channel than HBO. Dunkirk deserves a B+, and I am not a harsh grader, I am more of an admirer.