🎞️ When is Oppenheimer in cinemas: 21 July, 2023
⭐️ Our rating: 5/5
🎭 Who's in it? Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., Florence Pugh.
👍 What we liked: Christopher Nolan presents Oppenheimer's story in a thought-provoking way, it maintains the tension well across the 3-hour runtime, and Cillian Murphy is a wonder in the title role.
👎 What we didn't: The storyline around Robert Downey Jr.'s Lewis Strauss does not feel as essential as other elements of the story, even if it is interesting to learn about his history with Oppenheimer.
📖 What's it about? Exploring J. Robert Oppenheimer's life and his role in the creation of the atomic bomb, viewers are taken from his days as a student to the chilling aftermath of weapon's use.
Known as the father of the atomic bomb, the film explores Oppenheimer's life story through interweaving narratives from different periods in his life.
There are three key periods in Oppenheimer's life that feature: His time on the Manhattan Project, the investigation into his loyalty to the US after he was accused of being a Communist, and the political battle between Lewis Strauss' (Robert Downey Jr) and the Senate in the aftermath of the Oppenheimer investigation.
Oppenheimer is a war drama of an altogether different kind; one full of theoretical debate and boardroom meetings where the horrors of World War II are discussed, but not seen.
Nor should they because this film is entirely centred on its subject matter, to the point where — even in the moment the atomic bomb is used — the audience stays with Oppenheimer as he desperately waits by a phone to be given word about it.
The bomb's use is met with cheers and joy at Los Alamos, and while Oppenheimer presents a bright demeanour to his colleagues only we, the audience, are privy to the emotional toll that the weapon has on the man.
Nolan uses clever visual cues to bring across the fraying of the scientist's psyche in this moment. He feels as if he is at the centre of detonation site and as the audience you feel like you're right there with him.
The filmmaker opts for sensitivity by not showing the true horror of the atomic bomb. The utter devastation it wrought is made clear, make no doubt, but it is explained through word of mouth, through Oppenheimer’s vision of a burned corpse, no more than that.
This approach feels like the right decision — though some might not agree — because Nolan’s film is already devastating without being gratuitous, and the filmmaker ensures the audience is aware of the terrible things the bomb brought upon the world.
Oppenheimer is powerful and overwhelming, and despite its three-hour runtime the intensity of the story keeps it engaging from start to finish and this is especially thanks to Murphy's captivating turn as the scientist.
With the narrative so focused on Oppenheimer, and his internal struggle with his creation, the role asks a lot of Murphy, but the Peaky Blinders star steps up to deliver a moving, raw, career-best performance that will utterly transfix viewers.
Supporting cast members like Florence Pugh and Emily Blunt deliver captivating performances, each for very different reasons, while Josh Hartnett and Jason Clarke are also stand-outs amongst the incredibly talented A-list cast.
Even though the storyline around Downey Jr's Strauss doesn't feel as essential to Oppenheimer's story, and Nolan's decision to approach the period from different points-of-view can make it a bit repetitive, it is still intriguing nonetheless.
Oppenheimer is a masterful piece of work that reminds why Nolan is considered one of the best working filmmakers today. Its final moments are so powerful that the film will stay with viewers long after the credits roll.
Oppenheimer will be released in cinemas an IMAX on Friday, 21 July.
Watch a trailer below