A sustained ambience of dread invades every moment of "Dunkirk," writer-director Christopher Nolan's (2014's "Interstellar") remarkably mounted, ceaselessly intense World War II epic. From May 26 to June 4, 1940, an evacuation attempt of 400,000 Allied soldiers took place on the shores of Dunkirk, France, as German forces closed in from all sides. While this operation ultimately went down as a defeat for the British and French armies, more than 338,000 men were transported to safety over a grueling eight-day period. In war, how can survival be counted as anything other than a victory? It is this latter point which Nolan vividly makes again and again, not via words but through frequently astonishing visual storytelling which places the viewer squarely in the shoes of its brave, frightened, imperiled human subjects.
An immersive experience nearly impossible to sit back and watch with detachment, "Dunkirk" economically depicts this harrowing event from three vantage points—land, sea, and air—playing out simultaneously across three timeframes (one week, one day, and one hour). Its structure is ingenious, cohesively capturing every side of this struggle without compromising the reality of what, and how, it occurred, while Lee Smith's (2013's "Elysium") taut, uncompromised editing is nothing short of tremendous.
See Dustin Putman, TheFilmFile.com. for full review