Dunkirk Review Roundup

aChristopher Nolan’s newest movie, the World War II film Dunkirk, opens in theaters this week. Ahead of its release, reviews for the film have come online–and they are stellar.

We’ve collected excerpts from reviews and put them in one place to help you get an idea about if the film is worth your time and money. For even more on the critical reception to Dunkirk, go to GameSpot sister site Metacritic. You can also check out the behind-the-scenes featurette below to get a closer look at the upcoming film.

  • Film: Dunkirk
  • Release Date: July 21
  • Starring: Mark Rylance, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Harry Styles, Fionn Whitehead, Damien Bonnard, Aneurin Barnard, Kenneth Branagh
  • Directed By: Christopher Nolan
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Runtime: 106 minutes


“A spare, propulsive, ever-intensifying combat thriller, Nolan’s history lesson is both a rousing celebration of solidarity and the tensest beach-set film since Jaws.” — Nick De Semlyen [Full review]


Dunkirk doesn’t dwell on the horror of war but instead successfully conveys the sheer terror of it all through both small, human acts and deafening scenes of conflict. This isn’t a war story that leads to victory–that’s not what the story of Dunkirk is about–it was a retreat, an inglorious defeat. The war would continue for five more years. But through its miraculous events, Nolan and an outstanding cast of both young unknowns and veterans are able to depict not only the overwhelming, inhuman forces in play but the power of small acts of decency and bravery.” — Daniel Krupa [Full review]


“On one hand, [Nolan] has delivered all the spectacle of a big-screen tentpole, ratcheting up both the tension and heroism through his intricate and occasionally overwhelming sound design, which blends a nearly omnipresent ticking stopwatch with Hans Zimmer’s bombastic score–not so much music as atmospheric noise, so bassy you can feel it rattling your vertebrae. But at the same time, he’s found a way to harness that technique in service of a kind of heightened reality, one that feels more immersive and immediate than whatever concerns we check at the door when entering the cinema. This is what audiences want from a Nolan movie, of course, as a master of the fantastic leaves his mark on historical events for the first time.” — Peter Debruge [Full review]

The Hollywood Reporter

“Dunkirk is an impressionist masterpiece. These are not the first words you expect to see applied to a giant-budgeted summer entertainment made by one of the industry’s most dependably commercial big-name directors. But this is a war film like few others, one that may employ a large and expensive canvas but that conveys the whole through isolated, brilliantly realized, often private moments more than via sheer spectacle, although that is here, too. Somber, grim and as resolute in its creative confidence as the British are in this ultimate historical narrative of having one’s back to the wall, this is the film that Christopher Nolan earned the right to make thanks to his abundant contributions to Warner Bros. with his Dark Knight trilogy. He’s made the most of it.” — Todd McCarthy [Full review]

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The Guardian

“It is Nolan’s best film so far. It also has Hans Zimmer’s best musical score: an eerie, keening, groaning accompaniment to a nightmare, switching finally to quasi-Elgar variations for the deliverance itself. Zimmer creates a continuous pantonal lament, which imitates the dive bomber scream and queasy turning of the tides, and it works in counterpoint to the deafening artillery and machine-gun fire that pretty much took the fillings out of my teeth and sent them in a shrapnel fusillade all over the cinema auditorium.” — Peter Bradshaw [Full review]

USA Today

“…the fact that there are only a couple of women and no lead actors of color may rub some the wrong way. Still, Nolan’s feat is undeniable: He’s made an immersive war movie that celebrates the good of mankind while also making it clear that no victory is without sacrifice.” — Brian Truitt [Full review]

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