05th Apr2017

‘Snowden’ Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley, Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto, Nicholas Cage, Rhys Ifans, Tom Wilkinson, Joely Richardson | Written by Oliver Stone, Kieran Fitzgerald | Directed by Oliver Stone


It seems the perfect time to be releasing Snowden on DVD and Blu-ray, we are constantly hearing about how hacking has influenced events in America. With Oliver Stone directing, it seems he is a good choice because of his Anarchic choice of films he directs, but has he delivered a movie fitting of such a massive historical event?

When Edward Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) decides to go down the NSA/CIA route of fighting to protect his country he proves to be very adept at creating systems to spy on individuals of interest. When he learns of the true scale of surveillance though, he finds himself turning whistle-blower to wake people up to how governments are attacking people’s privacy.

We all know the basic details of what Edward Snowden did, and we all have our views of what is right and wrong about it. What Snowden does though is bring the story back to the human level, pulling away from all the statistics and showing us who Snowden actually was, and why he did what he did.

With a cast of the likes of Zachary Quinto, Melissa Leo, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and yes even Nicholas Cage you are going to get a quality movie. Nicholas Cage for example, may be an actor who has his eccentric moments, but he can also pull scene stealing performances out of the bag when needed, which he does as Hank Forrester.

The fact is though, the Snowden we are shown in this movie is just another patriot wanting to fight for his country. When the army route is taken away from him he uses his other skills instead. This is where the film becomes much more interesting, especially at the level of technological babble on show. Thankfully it is all easy to understand, with added moments where the more technically minded can get a kick out of understanding what in fact is going on.

What we do have to remember with Snowden though is that it is a work of fiction, and not everything we see should be taken as the stone-cold truth. This is a well put together emotional piece that takes a look at what one man had to sacrifice to do what he thought was the right thing. We see his relationship with Lindsay Mills (Shailene Woodley) which becomes a focus in the movie, all to further emphasise the pain caused to Snowden.

Remembering that this is a movie, and not a documentary about what Snowden did, and what was done to him is in my eyes important. What that doesn’t do though is take away from the quality of the film. While you may have expected an epic tale of espionage, instead we are provided with a more personal perspective. This is a man who destroyed his life to do something huge, and he actually managed to take on the American government. That is impressive no matter what you think of his actions.

The Snowden whistle-blowing is a huge historical event and opened our eyes to so much about government surveillance. What we get with the film is a more emotional look at what a man sacrificed, and it is done in a way that makes it a very entertaining movie. If you want a more grounded take on the world of spying, then Snowden will be a good choice for you.

****½  4.5/5

Snowden is available on DVD and Blu-ray now.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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