Dunkirk: What a Letdown

Ever since I first saw previews for Dunkirk I have been absolutely stoked about seeing it. We had several hours to kill in San Antonio the other day and figured it would be a treat to catch it on the IMAX screen.

The story is a dramatic one. Over 400,000 English and French soldiers had been pushed the absolute end of the land at Dunkirk by the German army. They were literally being pushed into the English Channel. English efforts to rescue them to “live to fight another day” were limited to trying to ferry small numbers of them to waiting ships that couldn’t dock any closer to land. Thanks to the transcription and volunteering of civilian boats across the channel, they were able to rescue over 300,000 of the stranded soldiers.

Great story – true story – should be easy to make this into a winner of a film.

Christopher Nolan managed to flub it up.

First, he couldn’t decide what story he was telling. ┬áIt was as if he were auditioning to direct the TV series Lost 13 years too late (can you believe it’s been that long?) His storytelling was all over the place – went back and forth in time – and just generally left you with tidbits of good stories mixed in with so many moments of, “WAIT… it was night a second ago” and “How many planes skidded in the water?” and “Is this the kid that was ….?” and “Okay, are they on the safe side of the channel or is this before?”

Nolan leaves you with tons of great clips and a cluster of confusion. Any one of the stories could have made for a great movie and they could have even worked intertwined chronologically, but at least five different storylines all out of order is too much for the moviegoer.

I read reviews with titles like “Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk is a Masterpiece!” and know without a doubt that is paid PR, not a real review. Yes, it is intense in places. Yes, it is visually impressive. In his attempt however, to tone down and simplify his storytelling unlike some of his excellent work (Interstellar, Memento, Batman Begins and Inception – all of which I rated 9 stars except Inception with 8) he really dropped the ball on this one.

by Chris Doelle

RATING 5 out of 10
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