Stylish director Christopher Nolan delivers another historical biopic for his twelfth film in Oppenheimer from Universal Pictures. Nolan enlists the talent of Cillian Murphy for the titular role in what serves as their sixth collaboration. In addition, Nolan pens the film's screenplay, an adaption of the 2005 biography American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer.
Nolan takes a non-linear approach to the biopic introducing us to Oppenheimer as he tries to renew his security clearance. The narrative then takes us back to the early years of his life and highlights his early romance with Jean Tatlock (Florence Pugh), who introduces him to radical politics. The film also focuses on his eventual marriage to Kitty (Emily Blunt), his business relationship with Leslie Groves (Matt Damon), and both men's part in The Manhattan Project.
Over time, the world sees Oppenheimer as a brilliant physicist leading the effort to capture the sun's power for his country during wartime. After the bombing of Hiroshima, he becomes one of the most famous scientists of the twentieth century, representing modern man confronting the consequences of scientific progress.
Oppenheimer soon learns with great power comes great responsibility. Powerful advocates who fear a massive nuclear buildup oppose Oppenheimer's radical proposal for international control of atomic materials. Meanwhile, Atomic Energy Commission chairman Lewis Strauss (Robert Downey Jr), Superbomb advocate Edward Teller (Benny Safdie), and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover are working behind the scenes to prove that Oppenheimer can not be trusted with America's nuclear secrets.
I first remember hearing Oppenheimer's name in my seventh-grade history class when we watched Fat Man and Little Boy, where Dwight Schultz from The A-Team played him. Walking into Nolan's latest film, I knew the basics of the story, and as a Nolanite, I knew the auteur would bring his usual A-game.
Those seeking typical summer blockbuster entertainment may be let down by his one as it builds up gradually. However, having had the opportunity to watch it in 70MM, I was thoroughly impressed. The sound and score by Ludwig Gorrannson are of excellent quality, and Nolan has created a visually and cinematically breathtaking film that keeps the audience engaged. However, it's important to note that the film heavily relies on dialogue.
Cillian Murphy delivers an exceptional performance that is sure to be recognized for awards as he portrays Oppenheimer's mental turmoil and emotional struggles. His pain and questioning of his military decisions are evident in his eyes, yet he still smiles at his success. The film builds up to a powerful third-act moment, where he engages in a mental battle with Roger Robb, portrayed by Jason Clarke. Director Nolan tactfully juxtaposes this mental battle with a bomb going off, creating a thrilling scene.
In addition to the previously mentioned names, the supporting cast also leaves a lasting impression. Josh Hartnett, Casey Affleck, Rami Malek, and Kenneth Branagh portray key figures from Oppenheimer's life and have great moments on screen. Currently, Oppenheimer is the film to beat in terms of ensemble.
Oppenheimer is another cinematic triumph for its director. Nolan shows an unwavering dedication to exploring the moral dilemmas that were inherent in the creation of the atomic bomb. After the credits roll, viewers may grapple with the ethical implications of technological progress, the weight of responsibility, and the perpetual struggle between improvement and the preservation of life.
Final Grade: A-
Oppenheimer is in theaters tomorrow