Snowden: A Review

I’m not usually into these kinds of movies. I’m a woman who watches Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Iron Man, Gladiator, that sort of thing. Anything that doesn’t have to do with today’s day and age, something that doesn’t reflect the world I live in–those are the kinds of things that I turn towards to watch. When I watch a movie, I want to escape my life, my reality–movies that take place in the world I live in and reflect things that actually apply to me are just not what I want to watch when I want to entertain myself. If I want something that reflects what’s going on around me, I’ll watch the news or read the paper, thank you very much.

However, I had company over last night, and she picked the movie. Alas, the movie she wanted to watch was Snowden, so that’s what we ended up watching. Granted, I like the actor that plays the main lead in the movie–Joseph Gordon-Levitt; he’s attractive, does a great job with whatever role he places himself in, and you don’t really hear about him in the headline of the local or national news. All good things, in my opinion. Due to that, I was okay with watching this movie that was way out of my norm. With that in mind, my friend and I settled in to watch this movie that she had picked and that I had resigned myself to.

The movie was long. And dry. There were no explosions, no fight scenes. I didn’t feel like there was any crisis that was leading the movie anywhere. The conflict of the movie was blatantly clear–the government was watching you. As one of the protestors of the FISA court order makes it obvious, this reflects back to the novel by George Orwell, 1984, where the government is watching you. Clearly, this is the conflict of the movie. More than 2/3 of the way through the movie, we see the crisis–the main character, Edward Snowden, feels guilty about being a part of this and becomes a whistle blower, and is trying to find a way to make the truth known to the American people. However, we, the audience, do not see this till 2/3 of the way through the movie–before that point, we see him having seizures, fighting with his girlfriend, arguing with the head of whatever department he is currently in.

The very beginning of the movie shows him trying to join the army, but breaking his legs in the process, which sets him on a different course of serving his country. The whole thing feels drawn out and unnecessary. There’s other ways of showing his character than spending 10-15 minutes of the audience’s time on a part of the movie that really doesn’t serve a purpose other than showing that the main character is trying to serve his country. Such a waste of time!

The only saving point, for me, about this movie is the cast. We have Joseph Gordon-Levitt, an amazing actor, trying something new–his voice doesn’t normally sound that deep, does it? I feel he was trying a new technique. He portrayed the character very well I thought. Go you! Then we have Shailene Woodley, who is newer but still popular due to her role in the Divergent films. I liked her acting but I didn’t like the character; it felt like a man wrote it–the woman following in the trail of a successful man who later becomes very important as well. Meh. Yeah, there’s women like that, but I don’t relate to it. Zachary Quinto, Rhys Ifans, and Nicholas Cage were also in there. Great additions, even if you’re not a fan of Nicholas Cage, you have to admit he brings a spotlight with him wherever he goes. This splash of well-known actors helps to gain the attention of the would-be audience.

The movie’s idea behind the story is great–be careful of your government. I get that. As an American country, it is the peoples’ job to keep their government in check. However, I feel that the message behind the movie got lost in the tedious every-day story that we see Snowden dealing with. We get it. We all hate our jobs. Sometimes we are asked to do things we don’t feel is right. He did something about it. Cool. Good job. I just feel the movie could have portrayed this story a lot better than making the audience get bored from the very beginning and not picking up our interest till the end of the film.

I give this movie a 3 out of 5.


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