Directed by Roland Joffé
Written by Roland Joffé and Bruce Robinson
Starring: Paul Newman, Dwight Schultz, Bonnie Bedelia, John Cusack, Laura Dern, John C. McGinley
The United States government is in a race with Germany to complete an atomic bomb. This work, done under the Manhattan Project, is being run by General Leslie R. Groves (Newman). Under his leadership, and the work of scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer (Schultz), the project inches closer to developing one of the most deadly weapons ever seen.
This film is based on the true story of the work done in New Mexico under the Manhattan Project. Bruce Robinson (The Killing Fields) developed the story, and worked with Roland Joffé (The Mission) on the screenplay. Joffé also directed this film. The cast features a long list of talented actors beginning with Paul Newman (The Sting), Dwight Schultz (Princess Mononoke), and John Cusack (Eight Men Out). Also featured are Bonnie Bedelia (Die Hard), Laura Dern (Jurassic Park), and John C. McGinley (Platoon).
This is an interesting movie that drives hard at the conflict surrounding the development of the bomb. The moral and ethical questions of the time are at the forefront of the film. Thankfully, this doesn’t result in a movie that tries to make a political statement. Instead, it simply accentuates the questions surrounding the creation of such a destructive weapon. The writing also does a good job touching on the science and the extreme efforts of the men involved. The dialogue and the action written for this movie seem to follow history closely on a larger scale, while changing the details of the lives of some of the people involved. The writing doesn’t do anything special, but it’s a good story overall.
The acting in this movie is good, but like the story it’s nothing special. Paul Newman is great as always, giving a great performance as a General under extreme pressure to get his job done. Opposite Newman, Dwight Schultz is wonderful as J. Robert Oppenheimer. Perhaps no one had more pressure on them than Oppenheimer did. Schultz seems to bring this sense of an almost claustrophobic existence to his role. Bonnie Bedelia and Laura Dern do nice work with their roles in this movie. Unfortunately, the parts don’t ask much and there is nothing extraordinary about their performances. John Cusack and John C. McGinley also do good work with their parts in this one. This is a well-acted film that, like the writing, doesn’t do anything too special.
The visuals in this movie are interesting, but again don’t seem to bring anything special to the film. The camera work, special effects, and other aspects all do the job. The costumes and set design are also good. Unfortunately, this movie lands somewhere in the range of good but not great. While the story and the history behind it are compelling, the production doesn’t seem to elevate the material. The sound and score are also good, but again, nothing that exceeds expectations.
This is a good solid movie that tells an interesting story. The acting is good, as are the other aspects of the film. If you’re a fan of any of the stars you might enjoy this one. I would also recommend this to history buffs and fans of historical films. I give this one 3.3 out of 5 stars.