Movie: Oppenheimer Nolan dares you to think

Christopher Nolan

What you need to know:

  • Cast: Cillian Murphy, Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jr
  • Where: Cinema near you
  • Reviewed by: Kemuel Othieno

In a word, Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer is outstanding. In multiple words… it would need a review so let’s have one.

The story of Nolan’s historical epic spans three hours and follows the professional career of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the atomic bomb. The plot of the movie is as straightforward as it can be. Oppenheimer, played by Cillian Murphy, deals with the immense weight of orchestrating the success of America’s nuclear programme. The movie also examines Oppenheimer’s fall from grace and the actual forces that led him there. The eponymous character must grapple with the moral ramifications of his work in the face of a country that insists on making a hero out of him. He rejects this portrait of himself.

The movie deals with a number of themes, particularly martyrdom and freedom. However, its most important function is to serve as an allegory for the times in which we live. Oppenheimer can be compared to Prometheus, the Titan from Greek mythology who gave the gift of fire. Oppenheimer explores the blessing and curse of atomic weapons and the efforts of their own creator to see them never used in war. The movie should also be placed in the present context; the progress for which we strive leads us closer to societal and climate failure. We seem to be using our boundless gifts for our own destruction. We are, in Oppenheimer’s own words, “become death, the destroyer of worlds.”

The movie is a marvellous masterpiece. It features amazing performances from Matt Damon, Emily Blunt and others. The score, composed by Ludwig Göransson lends gravitas to the entire affair. Nolan also delivers an amazing visual spectacle with the most pristine practical effects.

The movie’s only possible drawback is a failing of the viewer. The entire three hours of the movie are driven by dialogue. It pulls you in and makes you hang on to every word, desperate to see if Prometheus’s fire will burn him. It makes you think.

The only reason Oppenheimer it doesn’t get a Strong 10 is because most people want action and adventure, Oppenheimer just wants you to think. It gets a Strong 9.