Edward Snowden is a man of flesh and blood. He is real. And so is this story.
As the movie dictates at the very start, some scenes are a dramatization of what truly happened, but most of it is actually true. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Snowden is a grit-black drama about a young employee working for the NSA who decides to go public about some of the nastiest secrets the US of A holds dear …
Edward Snowden is by some called a soldier, by others a spy but by most a true American patriot.
As mentioned more often than not in the movie, he stood up for the very foundations on which the great USA was built: the freedom for every person to question their government. And that’s precisely what the movie Snowden – as is the man himself – is all about.
The movie doesn’t just deal with some of the darkest secrets of the NSA, or the reaction as well as the doubt and fear Edward Snowden is facing when he continuously questions himself and the very government he works for, but it also portrays quite beautifully how some of the brave decisions this man has made translates into a wide-spread, almost fascist witch-hunt of … yup, you guessed it! … the American government.
There are so many variables in the movie – his training, his first mission, his shift from blind trust in the government to a constant state of frenzied fear, not to mention his relationship with his girlfriend which has more ups and downs than a seesaw in a windstorm – it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the man behind the camera is a director who’s quite known for taking on daring projects.
Though he has a couple of certified American classics behind his name – Platoon and JFK sky-high above anything else he’s ever made – it’s been a few years since we last saw Oliver Stone make something useful, something that stays with you, something worthy of watching.
Snowden is such a movie. It’s an important chapter within the American history as well as a blatant telling of the general evolution of our technology and social media. And the story of Edward Snowden is the central eye of a raging whirlwind that simply had to be told.
Again: the movie clearly states it’s a clear dramatization of truth and facts … but one thing is beyond obvious … the NSA is found guilty of spying on millions, if not billions of people around the world through cellar phones, Facebook, computers worldwide, Twitter, laptops, hidden cameras, etc-etc-etc …
Unfortunately, telling an important chapter is one thing. Making a great movie about it is a whole other ballgame.
Whatever juice director Oliver Stone must’ve had in the late ’80s-early ’90s, he’s clearly lost his touch. Snowden is pretty good at best, and that’s even stretching the mark.
There are plentiful of fun scenes to be had, such as the training sessions of Snowden inside the NSA – with British actor Rhys Ifans trying out his best American accent in a wonderful little teacher-role that deserves two thumbs up – or how about his little chats with another genius though one from a previous generation, beautifully played by none other than Nicolas Cage.
(Man, he looks old!)
Seeing the Face/Off-actor in a mainstream movie again should bring joy to many mourning eyes … it’s been many years since he last enjoyed a highly successful movie … and it looks like he’s gonna have to wait a few more, by the looks of it.
Because Snowden may be a lot of things, but a successful movie it won’t be.
Partly due to how the movie is set up – it is after all a not-so-easily-digested serious drama – but also due to the fact that the movie has too many weak scenes.
The ending is drawn out needlessly, though we do get a sneak preview of what the real Edward Snowden looks like – and often the movie jumps back and forth between the past and the present in a pretty clumsy way, confusing you more than needed.
Yes, the acting of Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a good one. Yes, seeing the ever-beautiful Shailene Woodley struggling through her Divergent relationship with Edward Snowden is a powerful performance. And yes, even Zachary Quinto‘s appearance as a different kind of hero does help invigorate the often pretty boring story and unexciting storytelling …
But for a movie that lasts more than 2 hours, you’ll find yourself fighting a few moments of catnaps when faced with billions of terrabits of technical jargon or political ensues.
Snowden may be an important chapter to tell – and it’s certainly a movie that will be shown in movie classes around the world as well as inspire generations of free-thinking liberals – but solely as a movie on a whole, it’s both tedious, monotonous and often too ponderous for its own good.
Or how a drama doesn’t have to be boring … I guess Oliver Stone likes to keep things methodological so as to sound more intelligent … unfortunately it also makes the movie a lot less attractive to watch!
Did you know?
The real Edward Snowden advised Oliver Stone that the NSA’s command centers are actually run on tight budgets and are far less glamorous than they appear in movies and TV shows.
Give it to me short:
Snowden is the true though slightly dramatized storytelling of how one NSA-operative decided to swim against the stream, and unveil a world of secrets from behind the American, intelligent-gathering curtain. This little feat earned the man anything from being labeled a hero to being branded a spy and traitor.
As a movie, Snowden is a hard sell. It’s not very attractively filmed. There are plentiful of great performances, especially from Joseph Gordon-Levitt in yet another more-than-decent performance and Shailene Woodley as his girlfriend in one of her first true-dramatic roles.
Furthermore you’ll recognize the British actor Rhys Ifans as the stern teacher, Nicholas Cage as the mysterious genius and local NSA-brainiac from a long-forgotten, previous generation and Tom Wilkinson as the English journalist who’s very keen on introducing the story of Edward Snowden to the rest of the world, if only to save his life from an unconstitutional trial behind closed doors.
Snowden is a very serious drama, and quite often a little too technical to keep the movie afloat.
A long time ago, director Oliver Stone managed to tell JFK’s murder and the entire investigation that came with it in a brilliant way, he does *not* succeed in repeating the same virtuous marriage between drama and wonderful storytelling for this movie.
At best, Snowden is a passable leisure on a brilliant chapter in US history … if only the movie was a great as the action of the man himself … then we’d have ourselves a true American classic!