Thursday, February 9, 2017

'Snowden' is a genuinely important movie.

Even though I have watched a lot of movies lately,  I wasn't that enthusiastic about watching Oliver Stone's drama film 'Snowden'. I didn't feel that the movie would be able to entertain me and keep me that interested.

Even though the film had gotten a fresh rating at rottentomatoes (62%  positive), I thought that the critics had simply been kind to the movie. It was a bit hard to believe that the film would eventually be worth my time.

Nevertheless, after I finally managed to watch the film last week, it turned out that my expectations had been wrong. 'Snowden' not only is a really well made movie, but it's also a genuinely important film that is full of substance.

When it comes to the film, it's a dramatized version of recent real life events. It's about a fugitive Edward Snowden, who in 2013 disclosed to wikileaks and British newspaper Guardian details about the illegal spying activities that the U.S government was involved in.

The movie begins when we see our idealist main character at a boot camp. Our protagonist, a high school drop-out is trying to become part of United States marine corps, where he could fulfill his duties and responsibilites as a U.S citizen.

When it turns out that he suffers from multiple stress fractures and is physically unfit for service, he has to try something else. Snowden tries to recruit himself to the services of U.S intelligence, where he could use his amateur computer programming skills.

At the admittance tests, it turns out that he manages to pass the programming test faster than anyone else - and gets hired despite lacking formal education. He quickly rises up in the ranks and becomes a system administrator for the CIA.

While working for the 'company', he starts to notice that not everything that occurs seems to be legal or justified. He witnesses cases where it's clear that laws are being broken when it comes to our privacy and our constitutional rights.

Later, when he resigns and starts working for the NSA and its contractors, things don't seem to be any better. He becomes increasingly bothered by the arbitrary drone strikes, the invasion of people's privacy, and the framing of innocent people. 

Eventually, he decides that enough is enough and that something has to be done. He decides that it's his responsibility to become a 'whistleblower', who is willing to risk his own life in order to serve and inform the public.

So when it comes to this film as a whole, in my opinion 'Snowden' does a really good job at keeping us in the audience entertained. At least in my case, I didn't have any problems in following the movie during its two hour plus length.

Very likely the biggest reason that the film works so well is because of its main protagonist Edward Snowden. The film and its expertly written screenplay manages to pay attention to this interesting and courageous character.

The screenplay works because of its structure, which allows the scenes to go back and forth in time between Snowden's career. This storytelling device manages to add to the film, especially when it comes to the meeting with the reporters in Hong Kong.

When it comes to the acting in the film, I was impressed with Joseph Gordon Levitt as Snowden. He not only looks the part and sounds like his real life counterpart, but he also manages to bring understated dignity to his character.

I was also impressed with the supporting characters. Shailene Woodley as Snowden's girlfriend, Rhys Ifans as the high ranking official, Zachary Quinto as Glenn Greenwald and Nicolas Cage as a disillusioned NSA employee were all super solid.

I think it also has to be mentioned that unlike in some other films directed by Oliver Stone, 'Snowden' feels balanced and doesn't try to be too gimmicky or too flashy. It's one of the most low key approaches that the veteran writer-director has managed to take.

As a whole, even though the film looks good and is stylistically shot, there's no sign of JFK's quick cuts or experimentation with different camera lenses. The film has almost a relaxed feel even though it's categorized as a suspense movie.

All in all, when it comes to judging 'Snowden' as a film, I have to admit that I was more than surprised by its quality. Even though I had my doubts about watching it at first, it turned out that I was wrong about how entertaining the movie would be.

As far as I'm concerned, 'Snowden' is a surprisingly well written, well acted and a well directed movie. It's a film that not only manages to thoroughly entertain us, but it also makes us think and inspires us to become better as human beings.

So if you want to see a film about a modern day hero, I couldn't recommend Oliver Stone's 'Snowden' more. It's easily one of the most important films in recent years and it's a film that we all should see at some point.

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