I love movies that cover modern topics however they are always difficult to recommend to others. If you give it a good review, do they think you like the movie or agree with whatever the message is? Or is it both? My point is that the following review is based on the movie about one Edward Snowden and not whether or not I agree with him and the hot button topic of cyber-security and cyber-surveillance. K? Cool? Aight let’s get our reviewing caps on and go for it.
Story: This movie loosely follows the career of Edward Snowden from his desire to be a special forces soldier to his eventual asylum in Russia. The plot feels organic flowing from point to point in a thoughtful way. Nothing feels really forced, including his relationship with his girlfriend. The plot also does a fantastic job of showing Snowden’s slow decent from strong patriot wanting to serve his country post-911 to a paranoid whistleblower.
Acting: The star of the show is Joseph Gordon-Levitt and his does an amazing job of portraying Snowden from his early career to his asylum in Russia. His acting feels real and is easy to relate to; you feel for Snowden and not only his professional and ethical problems but also his personal ones too. Shailene Woodley plays Lindsey Mills, Snowden’s girlfriend, and does a great job as well. The cast is supported by other stars including Zachary Quinto, Timothy Olyphant, Melissa Leo, and Nick Cage. NICOLAS FUCKING CAGE. That one really surprised. Anyway, the supporting cast is just as fantastic as Levitt.
Presentation: The movie looks and sounds great. The locations vary from inside tech rooms to the mountains of Hawaii and are beautiful and the soundtrack fits the mood every time. I am taking points off for the odd switch to actually having Edward Snowden play himself in the end of the film. It’s an odd switch and while I understand why director Oliver Stone chose to do it, it is jarring and broke immersion right at the end of the movie. (For those of you following at home, that’s not a good thing)
Effect: Regardless of how you feel about the whole situation, this film definitely hits close to home. You will leave the theater feeling worried about your own personal cyber security and gets you thinking about the balance between security and freedom. It is obvious how Oliver Stone feels about the subject but it does get you thinking about the topic of cyber security, which I feel is the real goal of the film (or at least should be).
Other: The movie is around 2 hours and 10 minutes but does not feel long at all. It is a great film and probably one of my favorites of the year. That all being said, I don’t think I’ll be wanting to see this movie again. I guess another way of saying this is that it was just a few steps away from being a really great movie.
While it’s damn clear how Oliver Stone feels about the subject, it is still a good story and a fantastic movie. It just misses its mark from being a truly great movie but as it stands, it is probably one of (if not the) best movie of 2016 so far.