Review: Oppenheimer

Posted in Film Reviews 2023 by - July 21, 2023
Review: Oppenheimer

Oppenheimer (2023)
R  ‧ Biographical Drama ‧ 3 Hours 0 Minutes

Written by Christopher Nolan

Directed by Christopher Nolan


 Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., Florence Pugh, Josh Hartnett, Casey Affleck, Rami Malek, and Kenneth Branagh.


(In their own words). The story of American scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer and his role in the development of the atomic bomb.


The BEST things about the film

  1. The Score – I truly believe this film lives and dies by the score. Nolan uses the film’s musical score with extreme precision, constantly ramping up the tension in the scenes to their extreme and making the silence in some scenes exceptionally dramatic. He uses the music extremely well. I will go even further; many of these scenes would be boring without the score. This was sorcerer-level magic, tricking the audience into believing they were actually watching an interesting dialogue scene when it was just a lot of high-level science talks along with the mediocre dialogue that doesn’t move the story along very well. 
  1. The Pacing – The film has a rapid-fire pace, which is necessary to get through this three-hour-long film. It needs to be fast because otherwise there aren’t enough interesting things happening to stay with the film. 
  1. The Acting – This is a truly exceptional cast of actors doing some of the best work of their careers. 
  1. Directing – Christopher Nolan is obviously a master filmmaker. This film is extremely well made and will probably win many awards for people involved.


The WORST things about the film

  1. It’s almost there – This film always felt like it was “almost there.” Whether that was in “making a point,” “making sense,” “making it exciting,” or “making me care.” Three hours filled with the Oppenheimer character, and I didn’t care much about him. Basically, because I never really understood his motivations or his cares. I didn’t know why he was motivated to do things he did, to risk the things he risked, to lie about the things he lied about, or to love the way he loved. They would circle the rim discussing his motivations but wouldn’t dive into it.
  2. It’s long. It’s really much longer than it needs to be.
  3. Too many stories. It lacks focus; it goes all over the place in the name of art, not in the name of better storytelling. 


I have no doubt that most critics will love the film. Its good technical filmmaking. I feel like I’ve seen all these tricks from Nolan before, and it has gotten a little old. Hard, fast music, some good actors, lots of non-linear edits, special effects, slow down of camera speed … .just lots of tricks. Tricks that hide a fundamentally mediocre story. Sure, there are lots of interesting things about Oppenheimer, but I never discovered the core of him in this film. I don’t know why he ticks; I don’t understand his motivations. He’s not particularly likable, not that he has to be, but I at least want to know why he is doing things that I have problems with.  

As an actor, of course, I’d love to be in one of Nolan’s films, but I think that comes from a self-indulgent space in my heart. He has some meaty roles; he makes people look good on camera. 


Extraordinary minds don’t mean they are extraordinary people. 


Yes, maybe. I think more in an academic/study of film kind of way than in a “what a great, fun film to watch” kind of way. 


Loud and long. Sometimes those are good things, and sometimes it’s a Christopher Nolan film that is trying very hard to prove itself to be a good, meaningful film. Nolan is an exceptional filmmaker, and I probably would have liked this film a lot more if it was the first film of his that I’ve seen. But it’s kind of…same tricks, different movie. It’s not a bad film. With fast pacing and a score that pushes you along like an ocean wave, it flies by for a three-hour movie. The acting is fantastic, an outstanding ensemble. Story….I don’t think there’s a lot there. There’s a lot of cinematic trickery to get you to believe you just watched more than you did. I didn’t feel like I got to really understand Oppenheimer, which I think is the point of a biopic. All that being said, I can’t deny it is a well-made film and that many people will enjoy it. But I’m sure they’ll also enjoy anything else that he makes. They like the style, not the substance. 


My 3L system gives me the choice to Love It, Like It, or Lose It. 

Oppenheimer gets a Like It. 



This post was written by
When he’s not reviewing films or interviewing people for the Black & A Half podcast, Silas Lindenstein can be found in the greater metro Seattle, WA working as a real estate agent helping people buy and sell homes, or performing stand up comedy to fellow nerds. He has a wife and three children and desperately wants to learn to make the perfect homemade pizza.

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