Despite being deemed as a widely important watch by many critics, Oliver Stone’s newest psychological thriller was, sadly, a disappointment. The content itself was incredibly intriguing: the real-life accuracies and factual foundation of this movie were astounding, and the exposure of the NSA’s (and, more generally, the USA government’s) dark underbelly was as interesting as it was horrifying. Really, this movie had all the parts necessary to become something incredible.
‘The badly-judged star-studded cast of Shailene Woodley, Nicolas Cage and Zachary Quinto proved to be much more detracting than crowd-drawing.’
But, and this is a very big but, it didn’t quite hit the mark. For starters, the badly-judged star-studded cast of Shailene Woodley, Nicolas Cage and Zachary Quinto proved to be much more detracting than crowd-drawing. The too-recognisable faces and one-dimensional dramatics of the iconic actors we’ve seen so many times before prevented us from focusing enough on the true message of the movie. As well, the clunky scene sequences and disorientating set-hopping seemed badly thought-out and difficult to follow.
The inclusion of Snowden’s romantic life was also a distracting factor. Woodley’s role as Snowden’s long-time partner felt like a last-minute add-on used to entice a wider audience, but badly transfigured the movie into something not much more than a slightly limp boy-meets-girl tearjerker.
‘The interesting angles of faces and scenery morphing seamlessly into graphics of computing coding systems were beautiful to watch’
Nevertheless, there were some highlights. The cinematography of this film was impeccable: the interesting angles of faces and scenery morphing seamlessly into graphics of computing coding systems were beautiful to watch. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s hand trickery with the many Rubik’s Cubes that crop up throughout this 134-minute watch were reminiscent of both Now You See Me and Jason Bourne; and despite being a popular face in the cinematic industry, the mannerisms he adopted to portray Snowden himself made him almost unrecognisable.
Overall, while it would be an injustice not to encourage as many people as possible to watch this film due to its true-life depictions, it still remains that Snowden could have been much more phenomenal than it really was.
(Image courtesy of All Star/Open Road films)