Review: Snowden

They're watching you.

Edward Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a man who worked as a contractor for both the CIA and NSA. During his time there, he's shocked to learn just how deeply the U.S government is spying on its own citizens. The film starts in 2013, when Snowden means with documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, (Melissa Leo) and journalists Glenn Greenwald (Zachary Quinto) and Ewen MacAskill in Hong Kong. If you remember, they brought us the brilliant Oscar winning documentary Citizenfour. The film is the told through flashbacks of how Snowden got to that point through his work, and through his relationship with Lindsay Mills (Shailene Woodley)

The best thing a movie that's dramatizing something already covered in a documentary can do is not try to replicate it, and thankfully director Oliver Stone does that well. While Citizenfour spoke about a lot of what Snowden leaked, this film lets us get to know he was as a person as he goes along this journey. Snowden is humanized mostly through his relationship with Lindsay, and also through his supervisor at the CIA, Corbin O'Brien played by Rhys Ifans. Having enjoyed Citzenfour so much, I was worried how this would compare, and I'm happy to say that I enjoyed this version very much.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt gives a solid performance as always. It makes me wish this film was getting better reviews overall so that this would be an Oscar vehicle for him. He certainly deserves it. He says so much with his face, every time Snowden seems something he shouldn't, or is faced with the reality of how much surveillance there really is, you can see his eyes drop a little, even though he's trying hard not to show his emotions. He changed his entire voice for the role as well, and when we hear the real Edward Snowden talk at the end of the film, you see just how close he actually gets. Shailene Woodley and the rest of the supporting cast all give strong performances as well along side him, but he's the clear stand out.

I don't expect this movie to replace the documentary as a source of information, it shouldn't, but it's definitely geared towards those who may normally skip them, and that's okay.  His story is an important one and it deserves to be heard in many formats. Stone plays it safe too regarding what you think should happen to him. The film isn't saying one way or another on whether or not he should be pardoned for the information he released. On one hand, you get to know Snowden and are on his side, but you also feel for O'Brien for a brief moment when he sees what his protege has done. 

It loses a bit of steam towards the end, but it remains an engaging and thought provoking film throughout.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A-

Memorable Quote: "Can you tell me where you're going?" - Lindsay (Shailene Woodley)

21 comments:

  1. I got the chance to see an advance screening of this last night and I was pretty impressed too. It's not without its flaws but definitely not deserving of the criticism that is being heaped on it :) Nice review Brittani!

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  2. I'm so glad this is worth a watch. I thought Citizenfour was amazing so I've been weary about the story being given the 'Hollywood' effect, but I'm quite looking forward to it now.
    - Allie

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    1. I think Stone handles it well. It's not as good as Citizenfour but it's very good in its own right.

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  3. Nice review. I think you can work out whose side am I on when I state that I loathe the idea of my government snooping on me. Sadly, our Prime Minister Teresa May seems pretty keen on increasing the levels of surveillance...

    Looking forward to this, as I do like Stone's films, and it reminds me to also check out Citzenfour.

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    1. Both are great, I hope you enjoy them. The film touches on that too, with some people who say they don't have anything to hide not caring without taking into account what that really means.

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  4. I haven't watched this yet, but watching JGL in the trailer really turned me off. Citizenfour is so great, and I don't think I could get over the fact that JGL looks and sounds nothing like Snowden. Your enjoyment of the film is certainly encouraging, though!

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    1. I actually think he's got the voice down very well. Of course they don't look a like, but that didn't both me much.

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  5. I don't know. I like JGL and really liked Citizenfour but Oliver Stone hasn't made a watchable film for me since Any Given Sunday.

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    1. Honestly, this is probably my favorite Oliver Stone film, he usually misses for me.

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  6. interesting. I couldn't really tell from the trailer whether this was going to be good or not. Glad you enjoyed it!

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  7. It's today Stone's movie with clay-vagina in it so I'll pass but it's good to know it's not another disaster from him

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    1. Clay-vagina lmao! She's actually pretty good in it.

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    2. So I heard but I just can't stand her face :P

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  8. Glad to see this is a good movie. I'm not as high on the doc as I once was, but it is a highly important subject. I'll definitely check it out at some point.

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  9. This is a film I want to see since it is, for me, controversial, but leave it to Oliver Stone to tackle this subject. Excellent review!

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    1. Controversial, that's like Stone's mating call. lol

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  10. Nice review! I wasn't really excited for Snowden enough to see it in theaters, but to read that the movie is good makes me want to see it a little more. :)

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    1. I hope you get the chance too! Truthfully, I probably wouldn't have been as excited if it was anyone other than JGL playing Snowden.

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No seriously, post one. I need attention.