Oppenheimer review : Don’t Miss It!

A well-researched, immaculately played portrait of one of the most wrongly-pegged characters in history

Warner Bros

Like a pop-up picture book you might find in a doctor’s office, Christopher Nolan’s latest is one very pretty, educational and enlightening offering.

A well-researched, immaculately played portrait of one of the most wrongly-pegged characters in history, the famed filmmaker’s bio on atomic bomb creator Robert J.Oppenheimer (played by Nolan-regular Cillian Murphy) is quite different from everything the Westminster-born filmmaker has blessed us with before. At the same time, it does manage to splice in the tried-and-true staples we’ve become to expect from the director of Dunkirk, Interstellar and The Dark Knight.

While not fantastical in any sense, Oppenheimer is made with such ambitious, out-of-the-box imagination and drive that it deserves its own category shelf on the streaming aisle. It features the razzle-dazzle of the director’s past films, like the Batman movies, also much of his regular stable of actors, but it’s also structured so differently (closest cousin in the Nolan back catalog might be Memento) and plays unlike any other film he’s given us before. Some might even mistake it for an Oliver Stone movie – particularly, JFK.

Like the aforesaid Kennedy bio, the film switches back and forwards towards court cases, the most vital bullet points the story, and its many star-fueled speakers. It tells the story of theoretical physicist Oppenheimer who, over time growing fatter morals, was pivotal in developing the first nuclear weapons as part of the Manhattan Project, and thereby ushering in the Atomic Age. He was cautioned his creation would set off a chain reaction but didn’t consider that warning might’ve been one of the metaphorical sense. As the film begins, we drop into a court feud between Oppenheimer and Lewis Strauss (Robert Downey Jr), a senior member of the US Atomic Energy Commission, and over the next three-hours will discover whose tale is tighter than the other.

There have been several films about the Manhattan Project and the testing and anointment of the bomb, but none have been made with such flair, such creative unpredictable structure, and with such powerful performances as Oppenheimer.

Acting-wise, while Murphy (Nolan’s The Scarecrow from the Batman films, among others) is undoubtedly the star of the show, it’s hard to pick a standout amongst the ensemble – though most will remember Downey Jr’s brilliant turn as the title character’s adversary – because there’s at least half-a-dozen that deserve a nod on a ballot. And what an ensemble it is – Matt Damon, Josh Hartnett, Emily Blunt, Florence Pugh, Jason Clarke, Matthew Modine, Rami Malek, Jack Quaid, Devon Bostick, David Krumholtz, David Dastmachian, Tom Conti, Casey Affleck and more. Some, despite the 3-hour runtime, don’t get enough minutes on screen to make as much an impression as others, nor do we learn enough about a few of the characters to sympathize with them (Pugh and Malek, to name but a couple), but it’s going to happen in such a fat-rostered line-up.

Despite all, it’s Nolan who, with his specular visual eye and beautiful IMAX cameras (see it in 70mm where possible!), complete with exhaustive but more so, creative screenplay, deserves most of the credit – giving us the most entertaining, most impressive history class in decades.This is the film of the year – do not miss it!

4K Review : Mallrats

Trailers : Haunting in Venice, Migration, The Holdovers, Migration