Sam Mendes, the Oscar®-winning director of Skyfall, Spectre and American Beauty, brings his singular vision to his World War I epic, 1917. At the height of the First World War, two young British soldiers, Schofield (Captain Fantastic’s George MacKay) and Blake (Game of Thrones’ Dean-Charles Chapman) are given a seemingly impossible mission. In a race against time, they must cross enemy territory and deliver a message that will stop a deadly attack on hundreds of soldiers—Blake’s own brother among them.
Screenplay by Sam Mendes & Krysty Wilson-Cairns is contrived. The movie starts off well but drags a lot towards the end. Many scenes seem forced just to increase the running time as the movie has barely any plot. Why would they waste their time in some underground barracks when they are in a race against time?
They come across a abandoned farmhouse with fresh milk readily available. Schofield fills his canteen with milk just because he has to give that milk to a French woman with a baby few scenes later. That whole French woman with a baby track felt out of nowhere.
Schofield inexplicably keeps running away from a shooter instead of turning around and shooting him back. He even encounters a huge waterfall. When he is almost at the Devons to deliver the message he has to keep asking multiple people in the trenches for Colonel Mackenzie and then has to sprint across the battlefield, just as the infantry begins its charge.
George MacKay is good as Lance Corporal William Schofield. Dean-Charles Chapman is good as Lance Corporal Thomas Blake. Richard Madden is good as Lieutenant Joseph Blake in a small role. Claire Duburcq looked pretty and is good as Lauri. Colin Firth and Benedict Cumberbatch are good in small cameos.
1917 has been nominated for 10 Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Cinematography, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Production Design, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing and Best Visual Effects. It doesn’t deserve all these nominations.
It deserves nominations only for Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing. It will probably win the Oscar for Best Cinematography due to its one shot take effect. The one shot take felt like a gimmick and its not even a novelty anymore. Birdman had already done the one shot take six years back.
Sam Mendes direction is ok. The problem is the lack of story. 1917 is not bad but it certainly doesn’t deserve all the acclaim and Oscar nominations that it has received.