Behind the Line: Escape to Dunkirk

Movie review by
Alistair Lawrence, Common Sense Media
Behind the Line: Escape to Dunkirk Movie Poster Image
Budget World War II drama has violence, some swearing.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 87 minutes

Parents say

age 18+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Bravery and teamwork are prominent themes. Utilizing sporting prowess to do your best and help others.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Danny is courageous and selfless. Together with his fellow soldiers, he shows bravery both under fire during battle and when imprisoned and mistreated by his captors. The soldiers help each other and work together throughout. Characters mediate to diffuse potentially violent situations. Cooperation between different nationalities. French and German characters are played by British actors.


Period wartime violence. Characters shot in the face and body from long range, sustain bloody injuries and die. Bleeding shown. Fighting with rifles. Weapons drawn during negotiations. Guns held to characters' heads. A handcuffed character has their hands hooked above their head and is punched as part of a boxer's "training." Boxing matches during which characters are punched, knocked down, sustain cuts to their faces and bruising. Character deliberately injures himself while chopping wood with an ax as part of a plot by the prisoners. Throat slit. Blood spray and bleeding.


Boxer competes bare-chested.


Language includes "deep s--t," "bastard," "bleeding," and one use of "f--k off." "Jesus" is used as an exclamation. "Ali Baba" is used as a slur for an Arabic character.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Behind the Line: Escape to Dunkirk is a combination of a World War II movie and a sporting drama, and features violence throughout -- both in battle and in the boxing ring. The movie is primarily about Danny Finnegan (Sam Gittins) and his fellow Allied forces soldiers overcoming the hardships of their prisoner-of-war camp. Through Danny's bravery and the support that he is shown by others, the soldiers display various acts of heroism and solidarity, in particular by encouraging Danny during the boxing matches in which he is forced to compete by their German captors. Violence features frequently but serves the story. Soldiers die in battle when they are shot with rifles, and punches are thrown during Danny's boxing matches, in which the fighters sustain bloody cuts and bruising. The Germans are shown as cruel and sadistic, forcing Danny to fight when he does not want to and administering beatings to other defenseless prisoners. There is some bad language, with "s--t" and "bastard" among the characters' occasional exclamations, along with one use of "f--k off." "Ali Baba" is also used as a slur when referring to an Arabic character. 

User Reviews

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Adult Written bySunil limbu September 21, 2020

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What's the story?

BEHIND THE LINE: ESCAPE TO DUNKIRK is a World War II drama about a group of British soldiers who are captured by the Nazis as they attempt to make their way through occupied France. Among the soldiers is Danny Finnegan (Sam Gittins), an accomplished boxer, who is forced to partake in various boxing fights. In a bid to join the Allied forces in Dunkirk, Danny and his fellow soldiers orchestrate a daring escape.

Is it any good?

A war movie that does battle on a budget, Behind the Line: Escape to Dunkirk is a modest period drama that attempts to celebrate the familiar tropes of war movies where good triumphs over evil. Despite a decent opening set piece and some well-drilled performances in its boxing scenes, it struggles to sustain any real tension as it follows a group of Allied soldiers during their time in a prisoner-of-war camp. The characters' dialogue is mostly exposition, sucking the drama out of scenes and leading to very little actual characterization. 

With the secondary characters in particular barely developed, there's very little to invest in here. The accents from the supporting cast -- who are supposed to be French and German -- also frequently slip. The plot to escape the POW camp features intermittently, obscured by the boxing matches Danny must undertake to negotiate marginal gains with the Germans. However, the escape is supposed to be the movie's climax, leading to a muddled ending that literally packs a punch, but falls a long way short of a cinematic KO.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the depiction of war in Behind the Line: Escape to Dunkirk. What do you know about World War II? Do you think this was a realistic portrayal of war? How to talk to kids about violence, crime, and war.

  • What did you think about the movie's violence? Was it too frequent? Did it help drive the narrative forward?

  • How do Danny's boxing achievements both help and hinder him? What character strengths does he display? Why are these good traits to have?

  • How does this movie compare with other war movies? Do you have a favorite? What do or don't you like about war movies?

Movie details

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Themes & Topics

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