Snowden: Oliver Stone
While I can't say I've ever finished an Oliver Stone film, his reputation precedes him, most notably for JFK, where he told the story he wanted to rather than the one we've heard before. I regretfully haven't seen JFK (it's on my massive list of things to watch), so I'm going off of hearsay, but my understanding is that the movie twists a few facts to get to its point. This isn’t necessarily bad, because at least it starts a dialogue. With that made clear, I feel it’s important to leave any preconceptions of Edward Snowden at the door.
Snowden starts with the first in-person meet between Snowden and journalists, one of them behind the Oscar-winning documentary Citizen Four. Once everyone is settled at the hotel in Hong Kong, Edward Snowden tells his story that spans his dismissal from Special Forces training until up to the leak.
It was weird walking out of the theater, not because it's hard-hitting and eye-opening, but because I was unsure of my opinion on the film. Having followed the story and seen Citizen Four, I can say that at least the portrayal of Snowden and the events in Hong Kong are spot on. Joseph Gordon Levitt does a fantastic job playing the intelligent and reserved man Snowden is known to be. Levitt even imitates his voice, and while I thought from the trailers it would be a rather shallow and unfruitful attempt at authenticity, I forget all about it. Levitt blends into Snowden.
It’s not so easy to talk about the rest of the movie since the specifics of the Snowden story can only be told by the government and Snowden himself whose work was classified. *SPOILER AHEAD*While we do get a cameo from the man himself, I feel as if Stone intended that as a seal of approval, *END SPOILER* It still feels like the film takes some questionable liberties. Some plot points in the recount seem a little convenient, and I don’t feel they flesh out Snowden’s motivations.
One thing that I always dislike is a heavy-handed message. Call me hard on the film or pretentious, I don’t care, but when a film shoves an idea down your throat rather than letting you form your own opinion, I can’t help but roll my eyes. The film builds him up to be this generation's greatest hero in a way, and while I personally support his actions, I don’t think that you should make someone else feel that if they’re opposed. I said earlier, opening a dialogue is great and what we need more of, instead of making a biased and opinionated pieces.
I may be harping on a lot of the negatives, mostly because they stuck out, but the film was never boring. It was always engaging and intriguing despite my doubts of authenticity. Some people have been saying the end 15 mins feel tacked on, but if you’ve seen Citizen Four, you should have no problem with it.
If anyone were to ask me to pick between this or Citizen Four, I would choose Citizen Four. But if I were asked to recommend an entertaining film based on this complex story, Snowden would be my pick.
"Curtains" is where you can catch movie reviews by the Metal Lifestyle staff.