It is great to see a World War II movie come out this year. It is even better that it isn’t American centric. I love my country, but we have made it this idea we won World War II by ourselves which isn’t the case.
The movie has some pretty spots, taking the story of three groups that intertwine. The first group about British Spitfires (fighter planes) trying to give some cover, and engaging with German air force. Resulting in Tom Hardy having the only interesting action in the movie.
The second story about a small civilian ship as part of the armada of civilians coming to rescue the trapped soldiers and the story that unfolds when they pick up a soldier from a sunk ship.
Finally the third story is about two soldiers trying to survive on the beach, and wait for the rescue coming from the civilian ships.
It was interesting that all three stories occurred over different period of time but ended together. The fighters story was within an hour, the ship within a few hours, and the soldiers within a couple of days. I think this could work in other movies, and I suspect this will spark a lot of copycats for that style. We will hate this just as much as other niche storytelling styles within a few years.
The problem is there is actually very little story. It is hard to see that because the story keeps jumping around, but when you step back the story itself lacks anything. I have seen documentaries on Dunkirk that had more story. I don’t know if there was never a full story, or if maybe the story got lost when Nolan was trying to break it up to fight the weird timing, but either way it is pretty barren.
I cared nothing about the soldiers at all, Nolan provided nothing for the audience to care about. Tom Hardy was interesting, but that was because of him, not because the story gave him anything. The only story I felt a little compelling was about the civilian ship, its crew of two teens and an older man and how they handle picking up a survivor. Even this story though was lacking on details and when you step back you wonder where the other half of the story went.
I will admit the possibility that the hype was so big that my expectations may be too high. I was told huge action sequences, and I didn’t see that. This isn’t Saving Private Ryan, or The Battle of Britain even. It was fairly boring for me, and I can really like slow movies. The movie has a short run time, but I was still looking at the clock before it was over.
The good: It is an interesting way to tell a story, and it is nice to see a non-American based World War II movie.
The bad: The pacing was slow, very little action or story, and very overhyped.
This is a movie I would recommend if you are a die hard World War II fan, but even then wait until it hits Netflix.