The following review is spoiler-free.
How many ways can you shoot a war film?
Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dunkirk’ is undoubtedly a fresh take on the war genre, but it’s far from the “masterpiece” or “best war movie ever made” or “best Nolan movie ever” that most critics claim it is. For me, the “best war movie” title is still held by “Saving Private Ryan” and “The Thin Red Line”. It is technically impressive, sure, but I’ve seen these sequences done much better before. It’s not quite the disappointment ‘Interstellar’ was — in fact, it managed to compensate that disappointment to a certain extent.
And I hate to say this, but, I still am of the opinion that Nolan isn’t very good at filming action — the few memorable bits from the ‘Batman’ trilogy and ‘Inception’ notwithstanding. After having seen much better war movies — and the bar has been set extremely high with ‘Saving Private Ryan’ — ‘Dunkirk’ feels relatively very old-fashioned. Of course, I can see that Nolan was aiming for a different kind of reaction but I wanted something more.
I’m not going to comment on the minimal character development and dialogues because Nolan has already stated that this was deliberate. This is basically his ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’, but Nolan is no George Miller. Being a huge Nolan fan, and also having studied everything he has made so far, I’ve observed that his biggest strength is that he is able to hide his flaws behind all the non-linear gimmickry, bombastic imagery, thunderous sound effects, rousing background score and the loud, superfluous IMAX marketing.
While I’m glad that this movie is getting a better response from the critics than ‘Interstellar’, I honestly think that there is a small downside to it because I think it would only encourage Nolan to make more movies like this, and that’s not exactly what I want from a man who has written insanely cerebral and more engaging stories like ‘Memento’, ‘The Prestige’ and ‘Inception’. For the time being, I’m not in the mood for writing a lengthier review. I might write more about it after a second viewing, on Blu-ray.