Snowden follows American computer professional Edward Snowden (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the film), who leaked classified information from the National Security Agency to The Guardian in June 2013.
Snowden is a movie I got to see two months before its release this September, and I’m glad I took the opportunity to watch it. Director Oliver Stone delivers an interesting, complex, and well-done biopic that taught me a lot more about who Edward Snowden really was, what he did, and why he did it. The film works as both an excellent biopic and a great political thriller. I’ve seen Joseph Gordon-Levitt shine in many films over the years, but I’ve never seen such outstanding work from him like in this film. I couldn’t see Gordon-Levitt in the film, I could only see Snowden. He completely changes his appearance, behavior, and most remarkably his voice to perfectly match the figure in real life. Towards the end of the film, an interview with the real Snowden is compared to one with Gordon-Levitt’s portrayal of him, and the efforts the actor made to become the character are unbelievable. Although I don’t think Shailene Woodley was the best choice to play her character, I feel like she gave the role her best and her performance didn’t turn out to be too bad. The movie also has a great supporting cast (including Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto, Tom Wilkinson, and Nicolas Cage), and most of them deliver strong and interesting performances. Snowden works as a biography, a thriller, and an interesting drama. The movie gives us a better glimpse at the gravity of what Snowden did, and exactly why he did it. We get some depth inside the threat of our security at the time, and the controversy behind whether the NSA was doing the right or wrong thing by looking at our actions and personal information. Oliver Stone convinced me that Snowden was doing the right thing, and for the right reasons too, which wasn’t exactly what I believed before. This movie did what a great biography should do, which is change your view and opinion about the person being focused on by learning and understanding more about them. In the first twenty minutes of the film, the editing and cinematography feels off and not the way it’s supposed to be, but it’s all polished up afterwards, despite a few moments throughout where the editing feels somewhat odd. But the film’s great performances, storytelling, and effect are what matter the most. Instead of giving us all the information about the topic that happens after the film through closing cards, we get most of it through fragments of real newscasts about what happened, which isn’t something we always get in biopics, and I thought that was a different but much more effective way to deliver the audience information. Walking out after the film ended, I was left thinking a lot about the subject and what I had just watched, which proves the film succeeded at doing its job for its audiences.
Snowden is a well-done, excellently directed, and powerfully executed biopic that you should definitely watch in theaters when its released this September, and although the editing has a few moments that needed some more polishing, its performances and writing are what make it stand out from most of the other movies I’ve seen this year. I sure hope this movie gets the audience and praise it deserves once it’s released.