Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer is finally here. As one of 2023’s most anticipated films, fans have wondered if this movie would meet the soaring expectations that have surrounded it. And I can confirm that my expectations were not only met, but this film far surpassed what I had imagined.
Oppenheimer draws inspiration from the Pulitzer Prize-winning book American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Kai Bird and the late Martin J. Sherwin. It vividly tells the story of J. Robert Oppenheimer, a theoretical physicist, whose instrumental contribution to the development of the first nuclear weapons during the Manhattan Project marked the dawn of the Atomic Age.
Oppenheimer Movie Trailer
Oppenheimer Movie Review: What I Did and Didn’t Like
Clocking in at an epic three-hour runtime, Oppenheimer takes us on a riveting journey through J. Robert Oppenheimer’s life, starting with his adventurous youth to learning from some of history’s greatest minds. His insatiable curiosity and brilliance find inspiration from diverse sources, ranging from ‘Das Kapital’ to the profound wisdom of the ‘Bhagavad Gita,’ epitomized by the poignant quote, “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”
The central narrative revolves around Oppenheimer’s later years, during which he faces relentless scrutiny amid the height of the Red Scare. The film ingeniously uses this framing device to showcase Oppenheimer reflecting on his entire life. We bear witness to his encounters with fellow scientists, his fervent efforts to champion unionization on his college campus, and his acceptance of individuals from all walks of life and political affiliations. In the process, we observe a man profoundly at odds with the world around him.
Time in Oppenheimer unfolds across three interconnected timelines, effortlessly shifting between the film’s past and present. The masterful use of black-and-white segments adds an objective storytelling element, which helps viewers stay immersed in the intricate narrative.
However, what truly elevates this movie is Nolan’s unmatched ability to intertwine human emotion with complex scientific concepts. The film weaves a mesmerizing tapestry of intellectual curiosity, existential questioning, and the exploration of the human condition. Nolan cleverly delves into the psychology of a genius whose pursuit of knowledge unleashes both wonder and destruction. The end result leaves the audience grappling with the weight of the film’s central themes long after the credits roll. (Not to mention, good God, the final scene… it will stay with you.)
Cillian Murphy delivers an award-worthy performance as Oppenheimer. His portrayal is nothing short of exceptional, skillfully conveying the weight of Oppenheimer’s consequences and moral dilemmas.
Equally brilliant performances are put forth by the supporting cast, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Rami Malek, Florence Pugh, Benny Safdie, Michael Angarano, Josh Hartnett and Kenneth Branagh.
Robert Downey Jr. also does a remarkable job as Lewis Strauss. His character effortlessly complements the dynamic with Oppenheimer, even though the two only share a handful of scenes together.
Oppenheimer offers an enlightening perspective into one of the most critical moments in human history. And we get to watch it all unfold through the eyes of the enigmatic figure who played a vital role in its creation.
The film masterfully captures Oppenheimer’s complexity and inner turmoil. And in the process, it leaves us, the audience, with a devastating and haunting visual, highlighting the chain reaction Oppenheimer claims responsibility for igniting.
In short, it’s a masterpiece of a film. And I would argue Christopher Nolan’s best work to date. And while it’s not an easy watch or a feel-good movie by any stretch, it’s absolute worth seeing. Experiencing it in theaters only increases its profound impact.
(I recommend seeing the 70mm version of the film, as the Trinity sequence is really the only scenes that would lend itself particularly well to IMAX. 70mm though – it’s a work of art).
Oppenheimer Movie Review:
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