Each character has a role in the war, but we are never given much development or background for any of them. There are quite a few notable actors that are capable of grand performances, but the script seems to hold them back at times. Kenneth Branagh (Valkyrie), Cillian Murphy (Inception, The Dark Knight), Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies, The Other Boleyn Girl), and Tom Hardy (Mad Max: Fury Road, Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, The Revenant) round out the star-studded cast. Former One Direction member, Harry Styles, also joins the acting realm in Dunkirk. However, none of them give a jaw-dropping performance for audiences to connect with. It seems as though Nolan really wanted to focus on the action, rather than the characters. I can understand his direction in terms of creating a war film, yet it feels weaker than most (if not all) of Nolan's past films.
Technically, this film is a fantastic addition to Nolan's filmography. The action is intense, with unpredictable war sequences and constantly evolving events. While I have never been through a war, I imagine that this film portrays what it would be like very effectively. To add to the intensity, Hans Zimmer (Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, The Dark Knight, The Lion King, Inception) creates another score for Nolan. Similarly to the score of Inception, Zimmer cleverly meters his score so that it swells with the action. The pomp and circumstance of the score also reminds us of where the events are taking place. This is a truly symphonic composition that fits into a classical film score genre. Surely, we will be seeing an Oscar nomination for the constantly running film score.
The Bottom Line: As a war film, Dunkirk is a masterpiece for the eyes and ears. Although, it does lack the intriguing character development that previous Christopher Nolan films have.