Hello Everyone, Janet W. here…
Ever hear the song, “Somebody’s Watching Me,” by Rockwell? Snowden will open your eyes to the realization of these words.
Edward Joseph Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a 29-year-old walking supercomputer has a simple dream: to serve his country. However, the deeper you get to know something, the more visible are its flaws and skeletons. Most people know what Snowden did while with the NSA/CIA and why he is not living in the United States, but how many really know the man. Snowden attempts to reveal the man and his motivations. Unfortunately, its plot structure (flipping back and forth through time – so many titles were used) makes the ability to fully grasp all the information that is thrown at the viewers problematic.
Snowden does a good job of impressing the “Big Brother” nature of government upon the audience with immense video projections and swirling, colorful graphics. Occasionally the narrative is split between Snowden’s journey towards the truth of his employers and the struggling romance with his girlfriend, Lindsay Mills (Shailene Woodley), who anchored him. Love is a part of life, but with such a powerful powder keg in his hand, Snowden’s romance was disruptive to the film’s flow. That being said I understand the necessity for showing a complete person instead of just his job and the scandal.
Gorden-Levitt is quite skilled at portraying different real-life subjects as was evident in The Walk last year. He’s far evolved from the cute guy in 10 Things I Hate About You and Halloween H20: 20 Years Later. Woodley is clearly, firmly broken from the innocent little girl image from the first Divergent film and The Fault in Our Stars. The girlfriend role is a bit disruptive, so I didn’t enjoy or believe Woodley’s performance as much as I usually do. Surprise cameos were Nicholas Cage (Hank Forrester), who of late has had mediocre roles but I’ve still been a fan since Raising Arizona, Timothy Olyphant (CIA Agent Geneva) who I’ve enjoyed since Scream 2, and Zachary Quinto as Glenn Greenwald, a neurotic columnist (which is my usual experience with his work, American Horror Story anyone?).
I enjoyed the film, but it was a lot to process and a little long. The film didn’t drag, but it was long in length (slightly over two hours). A better use of the time would have been to give the audience time process and gauge the relevance of all of the jargon that was at times mumbled or rushed through. The relationship portions are forced and kind of interrupt the story. It’s a real story, so it makes sense to include the relationship and make Snowden relatable. I think the time transitions were handled well, but it got to be excessive with the titles denoting the date each time to the point that I stopped looking for a bit. Snowden is not trying to freak the world out (at least I don’t think so), but it is trying to shed some light on an issue that we should all bare in mind because of the technologically advanced world we live in.
ENJOY AND BE WARY
Janet L. White
Your friendly straightforward neighborhood critic