“1917” (Universal)

George MacKay, center, stars in a scene from the movie "1917." The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. (CNS/Universal)

By Catholic News Service

Gripping historical drama, set in the midst of World War I, in which two British soldiers (George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman) are dispatched across enemy territory to call off an attack by an officer (Benedict Cumberbatch) whose men are about to fall into a German trap, a mission made more urgent by the fact that the brother (Richard Madden) of Chapman’s character is among those facing slaughter if they fail.

By turns harrowing and lyrically beautiful, and deeply humane throughout, director and co-writer Sam Mendes’ film displays both the horrors of trench combat and the endurance of fundamental decency and spiritual striving. Unsparing in its portrayal of misery and desperation, it’s also luminous in its affirmation of civilized values and the triumph of faith, broadly considered, over cynicism.

Much combat violence with gore, numerous gruesome sights, slightly irreverent humor, a fleeting sexual reference, about a half-dozen uses of profanity, several rough terms, occasional crude and crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

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