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Monday, July 24, 2017

Dunkirk 2017 * * Stars

DunkirkDirector: Christopher Nolan
Year: 2017
Rated PG-13
Rating: * * Stars
Cast: Fionn Whitehead, Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy

Christopher Nolan, a period piece, and a warfare movie. It's an interesting amalgamation. What did I think? Eh, meager disappointment at best. My latest review is Nolan's 2017 release, Dunkirk.

The story of Dunkirk is a true one. It's not handled faithfully and it has big Chris achingly trying to reinvent the combat wheel, Nolan style! It's about a rather large evacuation in World War II. Allied soldiers were taken from the beaches and harbor of Dunkirk via the summer of 1940. And in case you are wondering, Dunkirk is a medium-sized commune in northern France.

Frustrating, overly thought-provoking, icy and at times clunky, Nolan's film is told through the eyes of three different groups of WWII servicemen. Yeah its running time is 106 minutes but Dunkirk feels like it's two and a half hours long. Heck, about an hour in, I was almost "done" with Dunkirk. Natch.

Image result for Dunkirk 2017 movie scenesAnyway, Christopher Nolan as a director, gives Dunkirk a sterile look, a large canvas, a few nimble wide shots, and a numbing sense of being. These are the traits I like about him. However, when Christopher's style fails to correlate with the proper subject matter (forgone battle in the trenches), it almost appears like amateur hour on screen. Nolan mind you, has never been a supreme storyteller, a user-friendly filmmaker, or an expert at staging action. This is where his Dunkirk ultimately fails.

For a movie under two hours, Dunkirk feels slight at hand at being a silent film. It still has a ton of scenes that don't find a rhythm and can't sustain any kind of payoff. Battle sequences involving planes, boats, and land infantry are quick, lack minimal gore (that explains the PG-13 rating), and are virtually non-coherent. Also, the actors mumble their lines and Nolan's favorite troupers from his other flicks (Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy), feel underused while not having a lot of script material to bounce off of.

All in all, my biggest fault with Dunkirk has to be the editing by Australian Lee Smith. He shapes a vehicle that substitutes wartime ADHD and spoon-fed art for tone and entertainment value. Nothing in frame is truly held long enough for the viewer to process. Basically it's the movie equivalent of someone constantly changing channels with their state-of-the-art remote. So yeah, Dunkirk has a couple of meaningful moments with a provided musical score that's equal parts stirring, absorbingly loud, and annoying. Still, Smith's edits are very choppy and very fleet. They zap Dunkirk of having any lengthy intrigue or sense of epic tranquility. Bottom line: War pics shouldn't make you miffed at trying to fit all the events together as the closing credits come up. That only works with stuff like The Thin Red Line. My rating: 2 stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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