I went into this film not knowing much about it other than what the trailers showed. One very important factor of this film is the use of long take cinematography. This means the camera shot lasts much longer on the focal point than the traditional editing pace used in most films. To compare the two, I think this film makes better use of this method as it creates a very intense experience. The movie is very intense as through the premise, it’s uncertain when or where danger will present itself. While the story may be something familiar to you, the cinematography and acting elevates the film to a cinematic experience.
The film starts with Lance Corporal Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and Lance Corporal Schofield (George MacKay) resting under a tree. Blake is alerted that he has a mission and that he should choose one person to accompany him. He chooses Schofield. They weave their way through the claustrophobic trenches to meet General Erinmore (Colin Firth). He explains to them that the Germans have planned an ambush for the next day at dawn and 1600 Ally soldiers are in peril. Blake’s brother is among those going into the assault.
Blake and Schofield are equipped and sent on their mission. Schofield wants to stop and talk as he thinks it’d be better to go at night, but Blake rushes through the trenches shoving his way through the crowded masses. Eventually they make it to the furthest point the trenches will take them, and they get ready to run through “No man’s land” (the area between the Allied Powers and Central Powers on the battlefield). They don’t have any initial problems other than trying to maneuver around the death and destruction. They eventually make it to the enemy trench where you can feel their fear wondering if they’re walking into an enemy encampment or if the intelligence was correct. They find the trenches empty with German gear destroyed so it couldn’t be used. Blake and Schofield try to take a shortcut through an underground tunnel only to have a tripwire set off explosives to collapse it.
This movie has a frantic pace to it. Not that everything is rushed, but the two main characters convey the weight of their mission with urgency and valor. The atmospheric effect of having the camera follow them throughout the film makes for an intense viewing experience. The mission is a bit uncomfortable or unsettling at times with how close you feel to the characters. Due to its historical nature, I did some research to find out that the film is very loosely based on true events and not directly based on specific accounts. It’s a great movie overall that really separates itself as a unique experience. Rated R.