This is a project for which many people have been waiting many years. In the hands of lesser talent, the film would have collapsed under its own weight, much like a black hole. Trying to weave the dense physics with the politics and World War II military effort and all the important characters within the limited expanse of a feature length film is nearly impossible. Many people will fault the filmmakers for glossing over various points, but in the masterful hands of Christopher Nolan the film is in unbridled success.

In the title role is Cillian Murphy, who was mesmerizing in “Peaky Blinders.” Here as the imposing and mercurial J. Robert Oppenheimer, Murphy captures much of what we have come to know about the physicist. Beyond the shared chiseled cheekbones, Oppenheimer and Murphy evoke a distant brilliance.

Nolan directed and wrote the film, based on the 2005 biography “American Prometheus” by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin. Tracing Oppenheimer’s command of physics as a student and lecturer (at esteemed institutions such as Cambridge, Cal Tech and Berkeley), he is tapped by the government to lead the Manhattan project. History understandably refers to him as the father of the atomic bomb.

Over the course of the film, Oppenheimer’s zeal to get the job done eventually runs headlong into him understanding the gravity of what has been created. Arguably, never before in history has man created something capable of annihilating the human race.

The film is incredibly gorgeous, capturing the era of the early 1940s. When the film’s action decamps to New Mexico, the wide vistas are both inviting and scary as we come to realize will soon transpire there.

Serious credit to the supporting cast, with many fine actors, coming and going all to briefly: Emily Blunt as Oppenheimer’s wife “Kitty”, Matt Damon as head of the Manhattan Project Leslie Groves, and Florence Pugh as Oppenheimer’s communist lover Jean Tatlock. Huge kudos to Robert Downey Jr. as United States Atomic Energy Commission member Lewis Strauss. Rushing by we also see the likes of Rami Malek, Josh Hartnett, Casey Affleck and Kenneth Branagh.

You need not have any deep knowledge of physics to appreciate the magnitude of what is being undertaken, clearly a better understanding of the nation’s history is a worthy byproduct of this immensely successful film.

Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.