During the span of his last eight films, director Christopher Nolan's short feature film was the 2002 suspense film "Insomnia" at 1 hour 58 minutes. His last feature film, "Interstellar" came in at a hefty 2 hours 49 minutes, while "The Dark Knight Rises" soaked up 2 hours 44 minutes of your time. The other films spilled 20 to 30 minutes over two hours.


The first noticeable thing about his latest film, "Dunkirk" is it's brevity. It comes in at a cool 1 hour 46 minutes which means it Nolan longer to get Batman ready to fight villains than it does for him to stage a five day battle. But top his credit he channels a whole bunch of Steven Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan" into this gritty War is Hell docudrama.


Calling it a movie would be overly generous as it never really develops any human characters and plays like several snippets tied together by one enemy: the Germans. It briefly defines the three major war venues of the battle. The first is the army of men on full retreat stuck between a beach and a blitzkrieg; the flotilla of fishing and personal water craft that set out to rescue the stranded; the under-manned air force overhead.

There isn't much dialogue as you are immersed in a vast battlezone called "The Mole: One Week", "The Sea: One Day" and "The Air: One Hour". Like a really kick-ass video game Nolan uses 70-mm and IMAX cameras to literally take your breath away while Tommy (Fionn Whitehead) is stranded on the beach with 300,000 other Allied soldiers and surrounded by the German army. Leaflets are showering down on the stranded soldier who are literally sitting ducks; the rescue boats they are waiting for have been sunk.


This is not a repeat of the opening twenty minutes of "Saving Private Ryan" with me storm a beach head in full attack mode. Instead this is a slaughter with a beaten army running for its life and nowhere to go. It is a story that few Americans fully understand and most know little of.


Mark Rylance plays Mr Dowson, a civilian boat owner who answers the call to sail across the English Channel to the beach in an attempt to rescue the surrounded soldier. With him is his son and the first person the pick up is a survivor from one of the sunken ships; he has no desire to go back to Dunkirk.


Tom Hardy dons a pilots airmask (muck like in "The Dark Knight Rises" and "Mad Max Fury Road"). He and his fellow pilot Collins (Jack Lowden) are watching the chaos from the cheap seats, from above with occasional dogfights with German Luftwaffe. Again, no dialogue, just looks.


Although each episode is of different time lengths, Nolan inter splices the scenes to keep us involved in all three venues. The man behind the camera, cinematographer

Hoyte Van Hoytema gives us breathtaking shots that wind up high and tight to capture all the fear and grit. You've seen his work in "Interstellar" and "Spectre"


"Dunkirk" is an amazing piece that plays as a fully immersed video game adventure where you feel the loss as well as the camaraderie of war.   -- GEOFF BURTON