Oppenheimer arrives at a pivotal juncture in history, much like the bright scientist it chooses to portray as its main character. Oppenheimer is an unapologetically brainy movie with great actors playing real people, a true story with important details that many viewers will be learning for the first time, and a film that, despite its roots in reality, feels massive and worthy of director Christopher Nolan’s beloved IMAX screen.
This comes at a time when almost every big-budget Hollywood movie (including its opening weekend rival, Barbie) is drawn from corporate intellectual property. This film is about J. Robert Oppenheimer, who is known as the “father of the atomic bomb.” This is made obvious by the title of the film. Nolan places the audience inside Oppenheimer’s enormous brain for the majority of the film’s running period, which is three hours.
We have the same perspective on the universe that this theoretical physicist did, which means that the action is frequently sidetracked by fantastic visions of subatomic particles and cosmic fire. However, Oppenheimer also contains elements of a memory play, or at the very least a detailed biography that has been fragmented and rearranged.
Oppenheimer skips around in time even more than Nolan’s previous picture, Tenet, and does so with ease, jumping in and out of various events that took place across several decades and making links that are logical but not linear. It is certainly not a simple task to embody the man at the heart of this cosmos, the constant in this shifting sea of science and history; nonetheless, Cillian Murphy rises to the challenge with an immensely captivating portrayal.