Oppenheimer Movie Review:
In Christopher Nolan’s latest film, “Oppenheimer,” the focus is not just on the chain reaction that occurs when a neutron hits the nucleus of an atom, leading to nuclear fission, but rather on the chain reaction that unfolds when great power falls into great hands. The movie delves into the inner universe of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the brilliant physicist who became known as the father of the atom bomb.
Cillian Murphy delivers a captivating performance as Oppenheimer, portraying a character who is curious, ambitious, and sometimes flippant, but also deeply conflicted and haunted by his past. The film unfolds through three parallel storylines. One follows Oppenheimer’s journey from a budding physicist and pioneer of quantum mechanics to being chosen to lead the top-secret Manhattan Project, tasked with creating the world’s first atomic bomb. In another storyline, set in the post-World War II era, Oppenheimer faces intense questioning about his once Communist sympathies and their potential impact on America’s security interests. The third storyline involves his trial at a Senate hearing, where the head of the Atomic Energy Commission (played by Robert Downey Jr) seeks confirmation as a minister, disregarding Oppenheimer’s loyalty to the country.
“Oppenheimer” not only raises profound questions about the consequences of wielding great power and the sacrifices demanded by a nation, but it also delves deeply into Oppenheimer’s personal life. As a non-religious Jew, he must navigate complex political landscapes and convince his countrymen that the Nazi threat is greater than Communism, while being cautious not to show excessive sympathy for either Jews or communists. He experiences love, loss, admiration, and seeks glory as he strives to make a name for himself in a field that is both isolating and increasingly competitive, as news of Germany’s nuclear advancements spreads.
Nolan frames the Los Alamos lab, where Oppenheimer works, as an eerie town reminiscent of the Old West, filled with scientists engaged in moral debates about the ethical implications of their work. As they approach the creation of the bomb, they must grapple with moral dilemmas, such as the justification for using a nuclear bomb after Hitler’s surrender and Japan’s impending surrender. Oppenheimer’s internal struggle is palpable, and he wrestles with the guilt he carries, particularly in his resistance to the development of a hydrogen bomb and his appeals to end the arms race.
Cillian Murphy’s performance shines as he effectively portrays Oppenheimer’s inner turmoil. The film takes its time to build up the narrative, and Florence Pugh’s supporting role leaves a significant impact.
As Oppenheimer witnesses the explosive power of the atom bomb during the test in the New Mexico desert and utters the now-famous words, “Now I am Death, the Destroyer of Worlds,” the film evokes a profound sense of the universe’s powers being harnessed from the tiniest particles. It also leaves audiences contemplating the presence and absence of God in such monumental moments.
“Oppenheimer” is not just a science-focused movie but a deeply introspective exploration of the man behind one of the most significant scientific achievements in history. Nolan’s storytelling prowess and Murphy’s exceptional portrayal ensure that the film leaves a lasting impression, prompting audiences to reflect on the consequences of human actions and the responsibility that comes with wielding great power.
Oppenheimer movie cast: Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Florence Pugh, Rami Malek, Kenneth Branagh, Gary Oldman and Robert Downey Jr.
Oppenheimer movie director: Christopher Nolan