When compared to some great classic war movies, Dunkirk is both mediocre and unnecessary.
Nolan, it seems, can’t forget that Memento is what initially made him, and uses a time-shifting device that is both unnecessary to the drama and gimmicky to the point of tediousness. To make matters worse he deliberately dispenses with one word (“ago”) that might have made viewers enjoy the time-shift instead of spending some time confused by it and trying to work out how it works. Add to that the ridiculous liberties he takes with history and it’s clear he’s pandering to British Jingoism and little else.
Dunkirk ignores a few key historical facts; that the French kept the British soldiers alive, that the British, in return, didn’t help the French evacuate their own soldiers, and that the only reason the evacuation of Dunkirk could take place was that Hitler (for his own reasons) specifically gave an order that stopped the Germans from attacking the allies in Dunkirk when he could quite easily have wiped out the soldiers stuck there.
Even apart from all those issues, the movie is simply overhyped and lacks the scope that the buzz and the trailer would have you believe it has. To see the movie, you’d think the soldiers amounted to no more than a few thousand (and in most scenes, barely a few hundred). The soundtrack by Hans Zimmer (who is, by now, infamous for his music plagiarism) is also incredibly overrated and relies mostly on the ‘Shepard Tone’ audio illusion to create a false sense of tension and drama. Dunkirk is white, British, and pretentious and to top it all off, ends with Churchill’s famous “We will never surrender” speech, which, by now, we’re all tiresomely familiar with – once again glorifying a man who referred to Palestinians as ‘dogs’, and who allowed the bombing of Coventry, and who also had no issues bombing and destroying the civilian city of Dresden.
For more examples of how much history Dunkirk purposely ignores, check out these two other links: