‘Oppenheimer’ reviews round-up: ‘Powerful, timely masterpiece’ is ‘a triumph’

The first reviews are in for Christopher Nolan’s epic new historical thriller.

One of the most anticipated movies of the summer (alongside Barbie, of course), Oppenheimer arrives in cinemas on Friday 21 July.

The film tells the story of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the American theoretical physicist known as the “father of the atomic bomb” due to his role in the Manhattan Project during World War II.

Watch the trailer here:

Shot on IMAX, it’s based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Kai Bird and the late Martin J. Sherwin.

Peaky Blinders actor Cillian Murphy leads the cast as the title character, alongside Emily Blunt (Mary Poppins Returns, The English) as Oppenheimer’s wife.

Nolan has assembled an incredible line-up of British stars, including Florence Pugh (Little Women), Gary Oldman (Harry Potter), Louise Lombard (The House of Eliott), Guy Burnet (Hollyoaks), and James D’Arcy (Broadchurch), plus Northern Irish star Kenneth Branagh (Death on the Nile).

They’re joined by American actors Matt Damon (The Martian), Robert Downey Jr. (Sherlock Holmes), Rami Malek (No Time to Die), Josh Hartnett (Penny Dreadful), Benny Safdie (Licorice Pizza), Alden Ehrenreich (Solo: A Star Wars Story), and Matthew Modine (Stranger Things).

As the movie makes its long-awaited debut, we’ve rounded up a spoiler-free selection of reviews to help you decide if you’d like to watch:


“Cillian Murphy dazzles as the destroyer of worlds … Christopher Nolan’s portrait of the father of the nuclear bomb is a triumph, like witnessing history itself being split open.” ★★★★★ – The Telegraph


“Cillian Murphy gives a phenomenal performance as J. Robert Oppenheimer, who oversaw creation of the atomic bomb, in a film that’s ruthlessly authentic and, for much of its three hours, gripping.” – Variety


“Nolan’s atom bomb epic is flawed but extraordinary.” ★★★★ – The Guardian


“A biopic in constant free fall, Oppenheimer is Christopher Nolan’s most abstract yet most exacting work, with themes of guilt writ large through apocalyptic IMAX nightmares that grow both more enormous and more intimate as time ticks on. A disturbing, mesmerizing vision of what humanity is capable of bringing upon itself, both through its innovation, and through its capacity to justify any atrocity.” – IGN


Oppenheimer is Christopher Nolan’s best and most revealing work. It’s a profoundly unnerving story told with a traditionalist’s eye towards craftsmanship and muscular, cinematic imagination.” ★★★★ – The Independent


“A masterfully constructed character study from a great director operating on a whole new level. A film that you don’t merely watch, but must reckon with.” ★★★★★ – Empire


“Christopher Nolan’s powerful, timely masterpiece deserves the biggest screens … Surrounded by a deep cast of passionate actors, Cillian Murphy gives an astounding performance as the “father of the atomic bomb.”” – Entertainment Weekly


“Cillian Murphy’s charisma holds together a film of astonishing images but fumbled storytelling.” ★★★★ – Financial Times


“It’s boldly imaginative and [Nolan’s] most mature work yet.” ★★★★★ – BBC Culture


Oppenheimer is the most important motion picture of 2023, and maybe far beyond.” – Deadline