Oppenheimer Isn’t What It’s Cracked Up to Be

I saw Florence Pugh and the rest of Oppenheimer this weekend. I want to preface this and say that I am a huge Christopher Nolan fan. I’m such a fan that I went out of my way to defend Tenet in last week’s content meeting.  It was not a popular opinion. But Christopher Nolan is the best director of our generation, and I will give him respect where it is due. That being said, Oppenheimer doesn’t warrant the same praise. 

The entire cast did a great job, with Cillian Murphy leading the way with a ten out of ten performance. I’ve spent countless hours watching him smoke cigarettes and slice people up. The fact that I didn’t view him as Tommy Shelby for one second is a testament to his unbelievable talent. Also, Bennie Safdie entertains the hell out of me every time he steps on camera, and this was no different. 

Oppenheimer’s issue, is it’s attempts to match the intensity of the dropping an atomic bomb to courtroom discourse. J. Robert Oppenheimer’s journey to becoming a martyr for an event that countless people contributed to was a story worth being told. But it is a lot harder to care about after you’ve spent two thirds of the movie seeing how the titular character’s strange personality, and scientific genius led to one of the most important events in human history.

This movie spends a lot of time watching its characters discuss the importance of the creation and use of the atomic bomb. It attempts to move at the pace of The Social Network. But it doesn’t balance the pace of its storylines nearly as well. The structure of telling the story based on the accounts people give under oath works well for most of the run time. But at a certain point, guilt and dirty politics should play a role in the story of the most destructive act in human history. It shouldn’t be the focus of the movie.

What really annoys me is that I can’t seem to find the affirmation I am looking for anywhere. The internet seems to like this video more than the one Lena the Plug just released. And the friends I saw it with annoyingly raved about it the whole ride home. One of my friends even told me, “It’s one of those movies where if you miss even five minutes of it, you might miss stuff.” That’s my problem. I saw every second of this movie. The potential of a topless Florence Pugh was enough to keep my eyes off my phone for the whole run time. But it simply didn’t land for me the same way it did for everyone else. 

If you loved this movie, good for you. It probably means you think you’re better than me, or you are not Japanese. 

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Written by TFM

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