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Dunkirk

The problem with so many war movies is finding something new to say. Literally dozens have been set during both 20th century World Wars that distinguishing them is difficult. ‘Dunkirk’ gamely attempts to be different by focussing on an event within an enclosed setting. Directed by the current master of epic films Christopher Nolan, ‘Dunkirk’ is a spirited exploration of comradeship amidst one of the fiercest battles in World War 2.

Surrounded by the German army on the beaches of Dunkirk during the early stages of the Second World War, the allied soldiers face peril including fighter pilot Collins (Jack Lowden) and Alex (Harry Styles). Involved in an evacuation dubbed ‘Operation Dynamo’, overseen by Commander Bolton (Kenneth Branagh), the soldiers try to snatch victory from the jaws of potential defeat.

‘Dunkirk’ is essentially one long action sequence. Unlike other Nolan movies, it moves at a brisk pace without any slow spots. It charts its course from the opening moments and never lets go. That’s good as it immediately immerses the viewer into the dangerous battle for freedom and the turmoil the soldiers’ experience. Their banding together to fight the enemy and cope with the hostile conditions is starkly shown. These moments are given greater poignancy via the strong cast successfully conveying the soldier’s plight.

The best aspect of Nolan’s direction is he refuses to over-sentimentalise events. ‘Dunkirk’ isn’t an exercise in patriotic flag-waving, but a focussed study in the value of team-work in any situation. The location filming on the real Dunkirk beaches fully bring the authenticity the film requires in a movie thankfully devoid of bloody violence. It’s all about the people and the cinematography and all areas of production strive to ensure the soldier’s memories are done justice.

‘Dunkirk’ isn’t a boring history lesson and nor is it a gung-ho action yarn. It’s a movie about overcoming the odds without the clichéd elements such a phrase brings. Nolan has put aside his often ponderous cinematic ego and delivered a more thoughtful piece free of speeches but full of respect for those doing anything to survive war’s harsh gaze.

Rating out of 10: 8

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