The Guardian ; 'Christopher Nolan's apocalyptic war epic is his best film so far'.
‘Dunkirk’ Is the Movie Christopher Nolan Was Born to Make
A thunderous meditation on the ancillary consequences of war
On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 94% based on 17 reviews, with an average rating of 8.9/10. On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating, the film holds a score of 98 out of 100, indicating "universal acclaim" from 13 critics.
Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian awarded the film five stars out five: "In military terms, Dunkirk is almost entirely static for most of its running time: the battle is over before the film has begun, and there is no narrative context of the sort offered in Leslie Norman’s version. Nolan surrounds his audience with chaos and horror from the outset, and amazing images and dazzlingly accomplished set pieces on a huge 70mm screen, particularly the pontoon crammed with soldiers extending into the churning sea, exposed to enemy aircraft." He also called the film "a terrifying, shattering spectacle" and "Nolan's best film to date," while describing Hans Zimmers' score as an "eerie, keening, groaning accompaniment to a nightmare, switching finally to quasi-Elgar variations for the deliverance itself." Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter also lauded the film, calling it "an impressionist masterpiece" and writing, "Although the film is deeply moving at unexpected moments, it's not due to any manufactured sentimentality or false heroics. Bursts of emotion here explode like depth charges, at times and for reasons that will no doubt vary from viewer to viewer. There's never a sense of Nolan — unlike, say Spielberg — manipulating the drama in order to play the viewer's heartstrings. Nor is there anything resembling a John Williams score to stir the emotional pot." Chris Nashawaty of Entertainment Weekly scored the film an A, calling it the best of 2017 at the time of its release: "By the end of Dunkirk, what stands out the most isn’t its inspirational message or everyday heroism. It’s the small indelible, unshakeable images that accumulate like the details in the corner of a mural."