Oppenheimer ★★★★½

The kind of film you leave without many words, just the silent acknowledgment that you've witnessed an achievement so large in scope and so gripping that a "review" might elude you for days. At least that was my experience.

It's long, dense, and uninterested in handholding, which is at times challenging, but mostly refreshing in a culture dominated by TikTok and brainless superhero media. Chris Nolan's fascination with J. Robert Oppenheimer and close reading of American Prometheus is clear in this epic final product, and yet I also feel like he must have wanted to reflect on so much more. It is, after all, a markedly existential film, a biographical drama that demands a certain degree of investment in history and politics, and a science flick.

It should go without saying by now that Cillian Murphy is one of our finest actors, but he leads an almost laughable who's-who ensemble cast with shining supporting turns from Robert Downey, Jr., Emily Blunt, and David Krumholtz. (See also: Gary Oldman as Harry S. Truman jump scare.) The pace at which Oppenheimer moves is exhilarating; its examination of guilt gnawing and harrowing; its implications about humanity's propensity for violence and self-destruction both tragic and downright terrifying. It is in the third act, in the fallout of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where the performances, the editing, the score, and Nolan's direction get cranked up several notches and rocket this thing to the sublime — so fitting a space for the story of a haunted nuclear physicist to occupy.

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