abdel ibrahim’s review published on Letterboxd:
Having not seen Jarhead yet, this is my first Mendes war film. Hell, I've been so busy these past few weeks this is the first film I've seen in 2020.
When I first heard that 1917 would be filmed in (seemingly) "one take", I was curious how they would handle time changes, considering it would be unlikely to tell a compelling story that takes place under 2 hours. Anyways, the whole camerawork aspect was the big talk of the film, the headlining topic in articles relating to the WWI epic.
Whenever giving my thoughts on films, I try as much as possible to refrain from letting technicality take control of the review— after all, the weight of every movie is in the writing. I personally didn't find the writing to be anything special, which in no way means that I didn't like it completely; war is just such a variable topic, and more often than not, it isn't utilized to new horizons (unlike films such as TTRL, Apocalypse Now, Come and See, Ivan's Childhood, etc). That's my biggest gripe with the film: it does nothing for the genre. It's a conventionally told story with not much below the surface.
I'm not saying every war film has to involve something like psychological deterioration or moral neurosis, but after something that's been done similarly before, it's just grounds for people to get lost in the action, or in this case, Deakins' (stellar, but far from his best) camerawork. I know how conspicuous that sounds, and I definitely enjoyed it throughout, but I just expected a bit more than what I was delivered.