Film Review – Snowden (2016)

Snowden

Title – Snowden (2016)

Director – Oliver Stone (Platoon)

Cast – Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley, Rhys Ifans, Nicolas Cage, Tom Wilkinson, Zachary Quinto, Melissa Leo, Timothy Olyphant, Ben Schnetzer, Scott Eastwood

Plot – Details the NSA’S questionable techniques to protect and serve through the leaking of information by past employee Edward Snowden (Gordon-Levitt) who risked his life to expose these techniques to the world.

“I think the greatest freedom that I have gained is the fact that I don’t have to worry about what happens tomorrow, because I’m happy with what I’ve done today”

Review by Eddie on 26/04/2017

A fascinating example of a modern day whistle-blower, Edward Snowden makes for an intriguing and engaging subject matter, watch the Academy Award winning documentary Citizenfour for proof of this, but politically charged director Oliver Stone’s film about the NSA contractor and computer genius, turned America’s most wanted is a strangely unexciting affair.

Once hyped up as a potential Oscar contender, Stone’s topical film seemingly struggles to nail down how to make this story truly tick and at 130 minutes in length, Stone’s largely talk-heavy expose of Snowden’s career and eventual whistleblowing (told largely via hotel room scenes that dominated Citizenfour) doesn’t seem entirely comfortable with how it’s going to engage its viewers, despite the nature of its story and a terrific turn by Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Snowden.

After the misguided The Walk, it’s refreshing to see Levitt once more showcase his considerable acting chops as Snowden. Nailing Snowden’s demeanour and distinct voice, Levitt’s turn helps elevate Snowden above where it may’ve laid without him and had the film found it’s groove and the reception for it became stronger, it’s possible it would’ve been a turn the recent awards season may’ve paid attention to.

Levitt is a clear standout in the acting stakes here as other big names like Shailene Woodley, Nicolas Cage and Timothy Olyphant get stung with rather forgettable supporting turns.

At times Snowden appears to be getting to convoluted or talk heavy for its own good but there’s an undeniable quality sheen to the film that showcases this big budget production had the tools at its disposal to become one of 2016’s most polished and interesting dramas.

Ed Snowden’s story is a story deserving to be told and Stone has a clear affection for what the once proud American did for his country, it’s not often a story like this displays such a clearly identifiable reasoning behind someone’s potentially questionable actions.

Failing to ignite the public’s interest or the affection of critics, Snowden may not be particularly memorable viewing but there’s enough here, including a great final segment and a standout Gordon-Levitt turn to suggest that Stone’s disappointing last decade or so behind camera is taking a turn for the better, even if Snowden wasn’t the film he and many others were hoping it’d be.

3 Rubik’s Cubes out of 5

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2 responses to “Film Review – Snowden (2016)

  1. I saw the trailer and remembered thinking, I’m going to be so distracted by JGL’s weird Snowden impression! Haha. But I’ll give it a shot after reading this. Citizenfour is excellent. 😀

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