Mike Pisacano’s review published on Letterboxd:
For a director as uniquely imaginative as Christopher Nolan, the idea of his next film being a World War II drama felt like the most basic standard project for such an established, high-profile director such as himself to tackle after such ambitious, high-concept undertakings such as Inception or Interstellar. However, Nolan proves his versatility as director by being able to take a genre and setting as played out and over-saturated as World War II, and making it distinctively his own, not only within just his filmography, but also within the context of World War II films in general.
Dunkirk observes this moment in the war from three different perspectives of the war, on land, sea, and air, in three different timelines which each converge with each other in perfect synchronization in a way that only Nolan knows how to craft.
In being a PG-13 war movie, the restraints of its rating manage to surprisingly strengthen its impact, rather than sanitize it. Nolan manages to communicate the terrors of being on the battlefield without needing to indulge in showing a single drop of blood shed or turning the war into nothing but gratuitous gore porn like Hacksaw Ridge or countless other post-Saving Private Ryan war films. The movie doesn't even resort to showing the enemy threat onscreen. We see their planes flying overhead and hear their bullets and bombs hurtling towards us, but keeping the enemies intentionally vague and anonymous creates even more dread and uncertainty by bombarding us with the possibilities of imminent death from every angle, but not being able to identify who the threat is or where it is coming from.
Nolan is a director whose primary focus is delivering a cinematic experience and impressively manages to immerse in the world and in the lives of these characters while also simultaneously giving not one ounce of depth to any of the characters. In any other movie, this would be much more of a significant issue, but because Dunkirk still creates such an immersive intense atmosphere which more effectively uses the medium of film to express the characters' fear and state of mind, the lack of sufficient character depth is made up for.
Dunkirk brings innovation to a stale genre and creates a horrifyingly real immersive cinematic experience.