Oppenheimer Review

Reviews Films




The second half of “Barbenheimer” is upon us. Rounding out the cinematic event that has everyone talking, Universal Studios releases Christopher Nolan’s (The Dark Knight) latest blockbuster – Oppenheimer. Based on the true story of J. Robert Oppenheimer – Father of the Atomic Bomb.

Oppenheimer tells the true story of J. Robert Oppenheimer, a brilliant American theoretical physicist who played a pivotal role in the creation of the atomic bomb. The film explores his exhaustive journey – from crunching numbers in classrooms to eventually leading the developmental team of the devastating weapon – Oppenheimer’s remarkable inventions and his profound impact on history are showcased, shedding light on the ethical dilemmas of scientific advancements.

Prior to watching, I had very little knowledge of the creation of the atomic bomb or J. Robert Oppenheimer’s involvement. Most of what I know of World War II was from high school history class, and we never covered the atomic arms race. On a Japan trip I took back in 2017 I got a chance to visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum which showcases the horrifying impact the atomic bomb had on the environment and people of Japan. I was interested in the source material but Nolan’s past few films haven’t really connected with me, so I wasn’t sure If I was going to enjoy this film.

Oppenheimer perfectly creates the emotions and turmoil J. Robert Oppenheimer felt throughout his life and career. The subject matter is one of the darkest times in human history, and Nolan manages to balance all of the elements needed to tell such a grim story all while keeping the story engaging. The pacing of the film is incredibly quick though, as one scene jumps to another with no pause in between. I would equate it to the film feeling like a 3 hour montage of Oppenheimer’s most important life moments.

Cillian Murphy’s J. Robert Oppenheimer is a career best for the Irish born actor. He truly became Oppenheimer and I forgot that I wasn’t watching the actual man himself. The star-studded cast are all excellent additions to the film with Robert Downey Jr’s (Iron Man) Lewis Strauss and Matt Damon’s (Bourne Franchise) Leslie Groves as standouts amongst the talented cast. The sound design, which has plagued Nolan’s work in the past, was flawless this time around. The sound of the bombs detonating is something that I can only imagine a cinema can do justice. Traditionally these biopic films aren’t really my first choice when it comes to genre entertainment, but I can appreciate the hard-work and research that goes into telling a person’s life story. The film is very dense with information, and having known very little beforehand it made the film very difficult to follow. The film never made me feel stupid, but I was continually playing catch up trying to remember everyone’s names and relations. It would have been nice to have some slower moments to let scenes breathe and let the audience take in all the information presented to them. Thankfully by the end I felt I knew enough to confidently say I understood most of the pivotal moments, and upon repeat viewing I think this film will become more enjoyable and easier to follow.

I can’t imagine this film is for everyone, but no one can deny it is incredibly well made and well acted. Oppenheimer is one of Nolan’s best films as of late, but never quite reaches a career high along with the likes of The Prestige and The Dark Knight. The bleak subject matter is delivered with such speed it does become difficult to pick up everything after only one viewing. Nolan fans will thoroughly enjoy this film, but I do fear general audiences won’t find much appeal to this dialogue-rich story.

Rating 7/10