The faceless enemy pushes back thousands of English and British soldiers to the beach of Dunkirk that should spell doom for all involved. The German army surrounded these men, and an evacuation is set to ensue during World War II. Dunkirk’s biggest strength is not getting to know the German enemy, but rather the faces of the men trying to survive through another hour, day and week of this horrible war.

Director Christopher Nolan (Inception, The Dark Knight, Memento) has always had a knack for well put together, loud action pieces. To many, Dunkirk may be his finest hour. The audience follows the interconnected lives of three different groups during this evacuation in 1940.

We follow Tommy (Fionn Whitehead) and others while at The Mole (the beach) for a full day. Here, we see the mass of humanity attempting to cross a bridge to enter a large rescue boat. Problems arise as bomber jets fly overhead, peppering these ships and the men on the beach.

From there we spend and hour with Farrier and Collins, two pilots who take aim at German planes in gorgeous and meticulously filmed air sequences. These men are stoic in their abilities and understand the importance of their positions in the military. They are truly the last line of defense in keeping those on The Mole alive.

Finally, we follow Mr. Dawson (Mark Rylance), his son Peter, and friend George. Like many others, they saddle up their boat with supplies and head to Dunkirk to help these men escape impending doom. The week-long journey is not an easy one. They come upon a fight pilot downed in the water. The man, shell shocked from what he has seen at Dunkirk, quickly becomes a liability. The crew will not change its course; they are set to help those in need of evacuation.

It is easy to see that these three stories will connect at some point, but the story to get there will keep you on the edge of your seat. This film moves slowly, but never wavers from the chaos that was the evacuation of Dunkirk.

There is a tremendously invigorating scene in which a group of soldiers are holed up in a boat that had ran ashore. They wait for the tide to rise so they can drift out to the sea, but when Germans begin using the boat for target practice, they must figure out what their next move is.

Scenes like this, which happen continuously, is what make Dunkirk such an unabashedly exciting watch. It was a terrible situation, but the men who were involved knew what it would take to survive. Each story we follow is different, interesting and important to the conclusion of the evacuation. It wasn’t until the final minutes I was able to catch my breath and relax in my seat.

Grade: A


Dunn County News Editor

Barbara Lyon is the editor of The Dunn County News in Menomonie, WI.

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