It is 1917, WWI, trench warfare continues between the English and the Germans in the flatlands of northern France. Lance corporal Tom Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) is ordered to deliver a letter to the front-line warning of a German ambush they are about to run into and 1600 lives are at risk, including Blake’s brother’s. To deliver this message he has to cross the occupied French countryside but he is assured the Germans have already retreated as part of their ambush plan.
The opening scene of this movie about the true story of Operation Martin, and of Jan Baalsrud in particular, puts us straight in the middle of the action. It’s WWII, 1943, and twelve saboteurs have been sent from England into occupied Norway to take out a German air control tower. Something has gone wrong in the planning and they mistakenly make contact with a Nazi collaborator instead of the local resistance. Before they have the chance to salvage their plan, the Nazis have caught up with them and captured eleven of them.
A squadron of US paratroopers is sent into a small village in France right ahead of D-Day to take down a particular clock tower, which hides a Nazi radio installation that relays communications between Berlin and the bunkers at the Normandy beaches, as this could interfere with the D-Day plans. After their plane is shot down, the survivors must find their way to the village and the clock tower.
Tina (Eva Melander) is an unprepossessing customs officer at a an international ferry port; she looks different from other people due to a chromosome flaw as she will explain. She also has a unique talent of being able to smell fear and guilt on people, making her an exceptional asset for border security. She is an honest, diligent person, but her facial deformities scare most people off and she feels most at home in nature and with animals.
Director Christoper Nolan lets us experience ‘Dunkirk’ by means of three storylines: one on land, one in the air, and one on the sea. With dialogue being minimal, it is all about the combination of visuals and Hans Zimmer’s nerve-wracking score to tell the story. And that works very well.
Ridley Scott’s debut as director is a historical drama, based on a Joseph Conrad story, set in the time of Napoleon. An impetuous hussar lieutenant Feraud (played by Harvey Keitel) stabs the son of an influential mayor in a duel, and another lieutenant d’Hubert (played by Keith Carradine) is sent to arrest him. Keitel’s character, rather than returning to barracks, challenges his arresting officer to a duel instead, though both survive the encounter.
Catrin Cole (played by Gemma Arterton) appears married to a handsome but struggling artist/painter Ellis Cole (Jack Huston), and against his wishes decides to get a job in order to shore up the couple’s frail finances. She is hired as a writer to help the established writing team. Catrin is sent to investigate a potentially stirring tale of a pair of twin sisters who take their drink father’s boat to Dunkirk to help in the rescue, and concludes that, despite some serious issues, the material may make a flagship propaganda film.
Reinhard Heydrich was Hitler’s third highest ranking officer, who had earned himself nicknames such as the Butcher of Prague and the Blond Beast. The Czech government was in exile in London at the time, and they sanctioned Operation Anthropoid: to assassinate this animal in Human Form.
‘Directed by Michael Bay’ has sort of become synonymous with sexy visuals of violent action, cheap thrills and/or mega explosions. This movie has those elements, but it’s trying to be more as well.
The story is well-known as it was reported extensively by global media at the time: the 2012 attack on a US diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, and a nearby secret CIA compound (which clearly wasn’t quite ‘secret’ enough…).
“Eye in the Sky” is not the first film to tackle the moral issues associated with drone warfare – “Good Kill” was one, “Unmanned” another, but it is the best so far. Helen Mirren plays a British colonel leading a complex military operation involving Somalian terrorists. The operation unfolds unexpectedly and she has to decide what to do next under the all too watchful eyes of her immediate boss (Alan Rickman) and a cast of meddling politicians, all anxious to cover their own backsides and avoid taking morally complex decisions at all costs.