Haunting images, scared soldiers and a ticking clock set the tone for director Christopher Nolan’s highly-anticipated war epic “Dunkirk”.

Boasting a cast that includes Oscar-winner Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy and Harry Styles (who makes his acting debut in the film), “Dunkirk” promises to be an edge-of-your-seat thrill ride filled with non-stop tension and elaborate battle sequences in the air and on the water.

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“Dunkirk” tells the true story of 1940’s Operation Dynamo which attempts to move 400,000 stranded Allied troops off the beaches of Northern France and back to safety across the water in England. Exposed on the beaches of Dunkirk as the German fighters approach, ready to target the awaiting troops, hope for escape begins to fade for the frightened soldiers who are made out to be sitting ducks.

The new “Dunkirk” trailer shows some of the carnage caused by the Germans as Nolan uses three characters to tell the story of the evacuation following the Battle of Dunkirk.

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The movie follows a soldier on the ground played by newcomer Fionn Whitehead, a fighter pilot trying to protect his fellow servicemen from the air played by Hardy and Rylance’s civilian boat captain who took up the call to rescue soldiers out of the water.

“Dunkirk” opens in theatres on July 21.