HomeArts & EntertainmentFilmLogan Paul was right to walk out of Oppenheimer

Logan Paul was right to walk out of Oppenheimer

Logan Paul is right. As a sentence, it’s right up there on the pantheon of things I never thought I’d write, somewhere between “I think Keir Starmer’s doing a good job” and “My favourite meal is lead paint”. And yet, here we are. On his podcast this week, the YouTube star turned boxer made a candid admission: he had walked out of the cinema midway through Christopher Nolan’s nuclear biopic Oppenheimer. “It’s talking, just talking, talking,” Paul complained.

Now, if you leave aside the question of exactly what film it was that Paul believed he was buying a ticket for – the life of theoretical physicist J Robert Oppenheimer was not brimming with car chases and bank heists, you’ll be surprised to hear – the fact is, he was entitled to his walkout. More than entitled: Paul dared to do what we all should more often. For many people, the notion of bailing on a film is unthinkable. It’s a white flag. A capitulation. An acknowledgement that you couldn’t hack it. You’ve paid to be there, after all, and even the most shoddily constructed movie deserves a fair shake. “What if it picks up?” “There’s only an hour left.” “What have I got to lose?” These are the thoughts rattling around most people’s heads when they’re sat in the throes of a crappy film, glued to the seat by some mix of inertia, etiquette and sunk-cost stubbornness. But Paul, psychological gladiator that he is, managed to drown them out.

Life is short, you see. All too short. And films are long, especially films like Oppenheimer, which clocks in at a positively beastly three hours. You may disagree with Paul’s opinion on the film – personally, I found Oppenheimer to be a brilliant piece of work, dense, gripping and intelligent – but if you aren’t enjoying it, then it’s a hell of a lot of movie to simply have to suffer through. If you walk out after, say, an hour, you have two hours of your life back. That’s enough time to do laundry. Or roast a chicken. Or watch Dunkirk on DVD.

Fans of the Channel 4 sitcom Peep Show will surely remember the episode when slacker Jez (Robert Webb) decides to walk out of a bad (or possibly just grown-up) theatre play during intermission. As he skips away, his inner monologue is unfettered glee: “I wasn’t meant to be out till 11 and it’s not even nine. I’ve time-travelled! I’ve made time!” Passing a homeless man on the street, he enthusiastically hands over the entry ticket (“Go see the second half. It’s s***!”). Peep Show often trafficked in niche, queasily relatable observations, but this sequence was pure wish fulfillment. Who among us hasn’t sat through some turgid film, beet-red with frustration and regret and wished we had the gumption to do the same?

There are, of course, caveats to this argument. A person can’t be walking out of films willy-nilly. If it’s happening to you more than once in a blue moon, you need to seriously re-evaluate what you’re looking for in a movie, and adjust your cinema-going habits accordingly. I would also argue that, in leaving a film early, you forfeit your right to a whinge – with any sort of informed opinion at least. Filmmakers deserve to have their work appraised in full before the slings and arrows start raining down upon them. If Paul ducked out of Oppenheimer after 90 minutes, he would have missed both the big atom bomb set piece and the point of the entire movie; any criticisms he makes then have all the heft and incisiveness of cotton wool.

This is doubly true of professional critics, though it hasn’t stopped them from swinging hatchets anyway. The late Roger Ebert gave damning reviews to several films on which he had bailed midway through, including the 1971 David Niven comedy The Statue and Vincent Gallo’s The Brown Bunny. In 2008, he finally swore off reviewing films he’d only part-seen, having given up on the indie drama Tru Loved after just eight minutes and panned it in print. In a written apology on his blog, he subsequently likened the review to a “drive-by shooting”.

Not for everyone? Cillian Murphy as Robert J Oppenheimer in the scintillating ‘Oppenheimer’

(Universal Pictures)

Most people, though, are not critics, and are free to bandy around whatever half-formed opinions they wish with social impunity. So the next time you’re sat in the middle of a cinema auditorium and having a bad time, staring glumly at some insipid piece of trash, remember that you can always leave. Pick up your feet, grab your bag, and walk out. It might not be time travel – but it’s the next best thing.

‘Oppenheimer’ is out in cinemas now

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