Oppenheimer Review – Another one for the books for Christopher Nolan
Here’s my Oppenheimer review from Universal Pictures. It’s directed by Christopher Nolan and stars Cillian Murphy, Robert Downey Jr, Emily Blunt, Florence Pugh and Matt Damon. Now showing on IMAX and Cinemas!
The film is based on the life of J Robert Oppenheimer, the man who led the Manhattan Project which created the atomic bb that the US dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And I have to tell you that it’s not as action-oriented as you’d think but rather focuses more on heavy dialogue and drama.
Cillian Murphy plays the role of the titular Oppenheimer and in one of the best use of aging makeup and practical effects I have seen in recent time. But that’s like just a quarter of what him worth the watch. Murphy, who previously played Jonathan Crane in Batman Begins, also shows his impressive acting in the film. Like super impressive. If you loved him in “Peaky Blinders” then you’ll definitely adore him in this picture. One of the things that Murphy telegraphed well in the movie is how much of an intellectual powerhouse he is locked inside a normal looking and sometimes frail man.
The movie also sets out to cast a different light on Oppenheimer choosing to focus on both the good and the bad which Murphy also delivers quite well. And it is taken to great heights with the help of Robert Downey Jr who plays the role of Lewis Strauss. I love how it feels like a great villain reveal in an anime series or a K-drama series where we take the time to see what made him become the main antagonist for our dear ol’ Oppy.
I swear its refreshing to see Downey as the bad guy.
Most of cast are pretty good especially Emily Blunt’s Kitty Oppenheimer. There was this one moment in the film where everything took a step back and let Emily Blunt do the driving. Nolan knew this, the camera knew this and she was fierce as a woman scorned. Great acting and totally terrifying if you were at the receiving end of that attitude. On the opposite side we have Florence Pugh’s performance as Jean Tatlock, a psychiatrist and one-time lover of Oppenheimer’s. I’m one of the boys (IYKWIM) but that nude scene was kind of unnecessary in my opinion. Yes there are two scenes where she bears her bosom and one of them I feel was really unnecessary.
Music also plays an important part for the film especially since the subject of the film deals with the development of the atomic bomb. If you’ve already seen Dunkirk then you know how integral the musical scoring is for a Christopher Nolan movie. This time though he takes it to a whole new level with the blaring horns working in tandem with the scenes. Stomping feet and clapping hands are also a common theme in this as we are painting Oppenheimer as the good guy that stopped the war. But really the other star of the film would have to be Oppenheimer’s opus, the atomic bomb and when that thing went off it was explosive as hell.
I felt that we kind of took a shortcut on examining the man he was after the atomic bomb. The man that has blood on his hand, the man who saw the terrible tragedy that befell on the Japanese people and the years of torment it brought on them as a nation. Nolan glossed on the scientist’s reaction and how he carried that weight around him until his death. I guess in the end it still was subtly glorifying the man or maybe it was the book that was the source of the movie.
I loved that Oppenheimer might be a biopic but it clearly pulls out all the dark stuff out there during the war and with society in general during that time. Whether its adultery, alcoholism and greed, its all there but neatly folded in the background, waiting for viewers to notice or connect the dots.
Also have to commend the film for giving us a number of surprise cameos like Casey Affleck (who for a second I really thought was Ben Affleck making his debut in a Nolan film) to even Gary Oldman. I swear you wouldn’t recognize some of the characters here too like Matthew Modine.
The story also explores power and what type of people will do horrible things, noble things or earn a quick buck here and there. It’s an exploration of politics and narrow world views versus brilliance of science.
It’s criminal that we also didn’t get to explore this theory that detonating an atomic bomb could have a chance that you ignite an infinite nuclear bomb explosion when it’s exposed to the elements in the atmosphere. In my mind I was like, what? That’s a possibility back in the 1940s? And they glorified nuclear energy and nuclear weapons?
Oppenheimer has something for everybody from the history buffs to the film geeks to the generic horny fratboys too. But at the bottom of it all, its about man and science and principles. Its about the pros and cons of brilliance and about the rise and fall of men. Fantastic movie, literally and figuratively mindblowing.