Snowden is certainly a relevant film in this day and age for a variety of reasons. First of is the fact that it tells the story of a whistleblowing event that happened during this decade. Second, is the fact that the real life Snowden is seeking a presidential pardon as Obama’s term comes to an end. With so many high expectations it is not surprising that Oliver Stone took it slow.
In his new biopic Stone tells the story of Snowden in a very meticulous, earnest, and detailed fashion. The only problem is that he is so serious about getting it right that sometimes the movie seems a bit dull. Stone is known for his over the top plots and crazy suggestions, but they are lacking from this film. So while it may be historically accurate, it’s not always that fun of a blockbuster.
That is not to say however that it is not effective. Snowden’s actions are still very controversial among most so a film with large production and leading actors is a great way to get the story out about really happened.
One reason for the less over the top caricature is the simple fact that Snowden is not the same flamboyant figure that is usually at the centre of Stone’s films. Instead, he is a bit of a techno whiz kid and Joseph Gordon-Levitt does a great job of countering the geeky personality with a guarded character that is aware of his moves. Of course, he had good reason to be measured and guarded which unfolds gently along with the film.
The film opens up in 2013 when Snowden first arranges a meeting between Poitras and two journalists. It’s within the first few minutes of the film that the audience learns that he is indeed a whistle-blower and has extensive knowledge of how much the government surveils its own citizens. Although the film spends a lot of time unfolding this life changing scene, it intercuts the event with flashbacks that explain how Snowden came to be in his current position.
However, despite learning about his brilliant and patriotic background the film shows us that he becomes disillusioned and alarmed at what the government is up too. He starts to argue with superiors and the cracks of what will soon become a major whistleblowing event quickly start to show up. The rest of the film is made up of the obligatory girlfriend and a cast of supporting actors that blow in and out too quickly to take note.