Saturday 17 February 2024

Movie Review: Oppenheimer (2023)

Genre: Biographical Drama  
Director: Christopher Nolan  
Starring: Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., Florence Pugh  
Running Time: 180 minutes  

Synopsis: In 1942, theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy) is recruited by the US Army's General Leslie Groves (Matt Damon) to lead a team of scientists in developing a nuclear weapon that could end World War Two. Along with their families, the scientists are based at the purpose-built town of Los Alamos in New Mexico. Previously, Oppenheimer's pre-war education allowed him to meet Europe's top physicists. Once established at Berkeley, he mingled with communists including his lover Jean Tatlock (Florence Pugh), before marrying ex-communist Katherine (Emily Blunt). 

After the war, the US is gripped by anti-communist fever and Oppenheimer is subjected to a secretive interrogation to determine if he should retain his security clearance. In the 1950s, retired Admiral Lewis Strauss (Robert Downey Jr.), formerly a high-ranking member of the Atomic Energy Commission, is offered a cabinet post in the Eisenhower administration. His previous interactions with Oppenheimer become a pivotal topic at his senate confirmation hearing.

What Works Well: This epic and stylish biography covers Oppenheimer's scientific, personal, and career milestones with bravado. Director and writer Christopher Nolan adapts the book American Prometheus (by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin) into a gorgeous-looking, fast-moving, cross-cutting story of scientific theory and war reality colliding into a victory imperative. Against a backdrop of shifting global alliances, the drama packs the moral dilemmas, self-doubt, state secrets, and personal rivalries inherent in the development of technology capable of annihilating the planet. The three hours of running time fly by, aided by excellent performances from a stellar cast, with Cillian Murphy brilliantly portraying Oppenheimer as an intriguing combination of accessible and arrogant. 

What Does Not Work As Well: At times, the avalanche of names and characters is overwhelming. While the science is respected, the theory and practical challenges of developing the atomic bomb could have been addressed in more depth.

Conclusion: Explosively enriched entertainment.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

We welcome reader comments about this post.