Whistle blower or traitor? That is the question behind the newest Oliver Stone movie, Snowden…based on the true story from just a few years ago.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt played Edward Snowden, a former CIA hacker and NSA agent, who revealed NSA illegal surveillance activity to several journalists (including Zachary Quinto and Tom Wilkinson) and became one of the world’s most wanted fugitives.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt does a very good job with this role, bringing life to this real-life character. Shailene Woodley gives her best performance ever as Snowden’s girlfriend Lindsay Mills. The cast is really solid throughout the film. Rhys Ifans, Tom Wilkinson, Zachary Quinto, Timothy Olyphant all had solid work and there was a really strong cameo from Nicolas Cage as Hank Forrester, one of Snowden’s idols at the CIA.
This film was really long. Too long. It was slow and had too many boring moments. This movie could have been edited down from its two hours and twenty minutes run time.
Another issue I had was how I felt like I was being spoken to constantly. Ed Snowden is shown as a heroic person whose motives are clean as the driven snow. He seemed to be really white-washed and I have a hard time believing that this was an accurate portrayal of this divisive man. And I did feel like he and others were preaching at me. Plus, there were many moments where they explained what was happening, especially with the hacking stuff, that just felt flat. The film did not need to explain as much as it did.
I think this story had potential to be interesting, but not without showing Snowden as a real person. I want to see some more of the nuances of the character instead of just making him a hero. I want the debate to be made whether or not Snowden did the right thing. There is little doubt about this version of Snowden.
The appearance of the real Edward Snowden at the end of the film really messes things up. I don’t know what reason Stone decided to use Snowden in this moment unless he needed an IMDB credit.
There were a lot of things that were okay during this film,but the negatives outweigh the positives in the end.