1917 (2019)

Rating: 8/10

Two soldiers are given the important task of delivering a message to call off an attack before Allied forces are caught in a trap by the German army at the height of WWI. In one continuous shot, Sam Mendes tells this heroic story across a chaotic, war-torn countryside.

I use the term “one continuous shot” loosely since there are a couple very obvious cuts as our main character is knocked unconscious. Still, it’s quite an experience watching continuously from one man’s perspective as he faces the horrors of war. It’s a race against time that doesn’t leave much room to breath and even when things seem to have slowed down for a bit you can feel the tension as the clock ticks precious seconds away before the British army walks head first into a disaster. There’s something that feels more akin to a survival horror video game than a war movie and that’s that the stakes are raised from a whole battalion to just one person trying to complete his mission in the face of a blatantly psychotic situation.

My one complaint of this film is that because it’s a “continuous shot” it has quite a few bits where people talk to essentially eat up time as we wait for the next conflict to happen. I understand the use for a continuous take, to show just how nuts war can be from a very personal level, and it’s quite effective. But the problem lies in these scenes pulling me out of the story to interrupt with a random conversation between soldiers. It’s not terrible, but it doesn’t add anything either, so why have it in there?

SCORING:

+9: very powerful war film told in an interesting way

-1: too many pocket scenes that go nowhere

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