Snowden25 Sep 2016
Snowden is, as everyone’s been saying, Oliver Stone’s least dogmatic film. It is his least provocative, least paranoid, and probably most approachable. To my mind, Stone laid off the paranoia and grandiosity in this film because the truth is supposed to be scary enough. But that’s the ultimate irony of this story: although we should all be terrified of mass surveillance, without consent, we’re all basically mollified by the pleasures the Internet provides. Perhaps not even a loud a voice as Stone’s can shake us up enough to do something drastic about this. And that was Snowden’s ultimate fear, that even knowing all of this, the public would do nothing. That nothing would change.
JGL’s performance, though distracting for some, worked for me. For most of the runtime, I was along for the ride, buying wholly into his portrayal of Snowden. Even the voice acting, which I thought would bother me, worked out nicely. In one scene, in the Hong Kong hotel before he bids goodbye to his compatriots, Levitt’s reflection, in a window, is set against the backdrop of Hong Kong’s skyline. It was in that moment that I was taken out of the film, and marveled at how uncanny his likeness was to Snowden.
Overall, the film is less successful than it’s documentary-sibling Citizenfour. It’s slightly overlong, the plotting and dramatic tension is not as compelling, and there’s little new information or feeling you get from watching it.