Four stars: Christopher Nolan's WWII-set 'Dunkirk' fulfills its mission

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Cast: Fionn Whitehead, Fionn Whitehead, Aneurin Barnard, Cillian Murphy, and Tom Hardy. Tim Lammers has his review.

Nolan's Dunkirk eschews the blood and guts of past war films, weaving together three distinct story-lines - on land, on sea and in the air - to evoke a tale that has the characteristics of a suspense thriller. During that time, 400,000 British and Allied troops ended up trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk, France, following a catastrophic defeat.

Nolan (Inception, Interstellar, The Dark Knight Rises) has eschewed CGI, which is welcome, but it tells in some places.

So whether you like what you see in the trailers and are a fan of Christopher Nolan's work, or simply a fan of Harry Styles, chances are you'll enjoy Dunkirk.

Dunkirk is a stark reminder of the unnecessary lives that were lost, the importance of an exit strategy and the pivotal role of the miraculous evacuation, without which history would have been very different. Piloting a pleasure vessel with the aid of his son (Tom Glynn-Carney) and a young man determined to get in on the action (Barry Keoghan), Rylance delivers the film's most rounded portrayal, that of an ordinary man who rose to the occasion and placed the needs of his country above that of his own safety. Still, one fearless little sailor, George (Barry Keoghan), truly tugs at our hearts, while Kenneth Branagh, as naval Commander Bolton, manages to convey strong emotions with barely any dialogue at all. He employed over 6,000 extras to appear as soldiers and civilians, assembled boats from the actual event and era appropriate planes, and even shot a portion of the film at the real Dunkirk location.

Inspired by a true story, the film is set in late May 1940. To win your way there, tag who you'd take with you to see it this weekend in the Facebook comments!

The 23-year-old British singer and 24-year-old Irish actor attended the movie's NY premiere with co-stars Jack Lowden, 27, and Aneurin Barnard, 30.

"Dunkirk" begins, as great films often will, with a scene of wonder and awe that lets us know, virtually from the first frame, that the filmmaker has his teeth into something big.

Hoyte Van Hoytema's cinematography makes the film a visual treat!

He waited several years to start making the film because he wanted to gain experience on working on other films and coordinating larger productions. They bravely went into war territory, selflessly risked their lives and those of their families, to bring back the stranded soldiers. "Knowing what it would take to create a quality war film of this scale, Nolan made a decision to wait until he had enough experience with big blockbuster films before bringing "Dunkirk" to theaters.