“God created a curtain of smoke to shield our eyes from what we are not yet ready to see.” – World Trade Center, Oliver Stone
Oliver Stone is famous for making movies with powerful anti-establishment messages. With Snowden he gets a conspiracy theory that was actually proved to be true, but don’t let that feel you with excitement just yet. If you want to see another attack on the government and a movie with a strong punch that will start a political debate, this might not be the one.
When we first saw the trailer we were incredibly excited about the movie, it has one of our favourite actors, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and a storyline about a real life hero (or villain depending on your point of view), that really should make a scar in American society. So when we went to have a look at the movie we couldn’t be more hyped.
Having 4 Oliver Stone films in my personal Top 20 List (Platoon, JFK, Nixon, Wall Street), I was absolutely excited for this one.
But just before we go deep into the review here’s what’s the movie about.
We meet Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) in the days leading up to the first Snowden leaks.
The movie makes some flashbacks to show Snowden’s backstory where we see his attempts of making it into the US Special Forces, only to have an accident where he breaks his legs. Snowden is initially portrayed as a true conservative american, loyal, blind to his government wrongdoings, and willing to give his life to keep it safer.
After his accident he makes use of his intellect and dives into the world of computers. He aces an exam and soon finds himself working for the CIA. He becomes aware that his government spies on its own people, by hacking into the cameras of their computers, phones, text messages and absolutely everything they want and can. No warrant is necessary and no need to be a suspect of a crime. Just ordinary people having their lives spied on.
Snowden starts to feel betrayed by his country and decides to leak the information with the support of several journalists.
So, conspiracy theory, spies, computer hacking and true events. Snowden has amazing ingredients.
It’s not the first time that Oliver Stone recreates true events that are involved in some powerful conspiracy theories. I watched World Trade Center and even though the movie is soft in what the conspiracy theory is concerned, there are a couple of moments where he places a few lines that gives the movie an edge.
Snowden, however, is a completely different movie.
It is incredibly and boringly safe. If you are an Oliver Stone fan, you will be disappointed and will start to question “Has Stone turned to the Dark side?”.
Having said that, the movie is actually quite enjoyable to watch and that’s the problem, a huge problem. This movie shouldn’t be enjoyable to watch, it should be sickening, making your head spin out of control so when you would leave the theater you had to talk to somebody, to scream out loud. Unfortunately none of this emotions are actually present in the movie.
Stone is appealing more to the mainstream audiences, and getting a message out to those Americans, who once, like Snowden, are loyally blind to their government. The movie has to be safe and soft, and despite our feelings of disappointment, we do understand his options. The actors committed themselves to their roles and delivered a good performance overall. It doesn’t top any of his previous films, but Snowden will definitely earn his place in Oliver Stone’s list, we do think it might not be a top spot, but we might be proven wrong.
We rate this movie with a safe 3 out of 5 stars.