Hero or Hack? You Decide in This Riveting Drama!

snowden

            Robbie K back for another review. This time we jump into the biographical/drama realm in the film of Snowden.  The theme of this tale is on Edward Snowden, the former intelligence officer who quickly became a hot topic of debate in the span of five days by revealing the secrets of the government. So does this movie stand up to the hype, or will it be lost to the high flying tale of Sully that came out last week?  Let’s get to it!

LIKES:

  • Great acting
  • Decent pace on the story
  • Technical insight into spying

 

For a movie focused on one man, you need a good actor to portray the title character. So casting Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the key character was a brilliant move to say the least.  Once more the man impresses me with his ability to capture a character’s nuances and bring them to life.  For someone in Snowden’s environment you expect intelligence, moral dilemmas, and most likely some paranoia when dealing with classified secrets.  Gordon-Levitt is able to portray it all, selling that he is a revolutionary programmer capable of changing the world one code at a time. He played geeky well, but he portrayed paranoid even better with all the symptoms common of the disorder. Shailene Woodley again gets the super dramatic role, trading revolutionary leader to concerned liberal girlfriend…who happens to be an exotic dancer/artist. I give the girl props for her ability to maximize a limited part, selling the morals well in her short screen time. Everyone else is pretty much a government extra and adding intensity to the movie and making for big bad enemies.

When it comes to biographies, you often get very slow paced tales that tend to be overdramatized and slow for the most part. I didn’t feel that way in Snowden, or at least I didn’t feel that way most of the time. Snowden keeps the tale going, laying out the foundation of how Snowden fell into his predicament in all the glorious details. One will get immersed in all the technical details and moral dilemmas Edward went through, accompanied with the stress and suspense it brings with it. However, I do fear that such a movie may spur the flames of cyberterrorism with how people are inspired these days, but we won’t hold that against the movie…much.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Overdramatic at times
  • Slow at parts
  • One side portrayal of Snowden

The threat of having Hollywood portray your story is running the risk of movie magic overwriting fact. As there was a warning at the beginning of the film, safe to say there was a lot of dramatic intervention in this film. This does bring an entertaining factor, but it is a little disappointing to wonder what is fact and what is overdramatized fact.  Some of the drama also gets a bit eye rolling at times and robs the film of the emotional punch they were trying for.

The excessive drama in the movie also makes for some slower moments that you may or may not appreciate.  While much of the movie was pertinent to explaining Ed’s rise, there were times when this got a little excessive. This was particularly true for meetings with certain supervisors, moments of jealousy and a delayed explanation of his “flight” that did little for me than extending the run time.  Yes, these are minor dislikes, but editing could have cut a little more and save things for the director’s cut of the film.

  Finally, the movie took a one-sided approach to this story, focusing on making him a hero. I’m not calling him anything negative, but we all know that there are two sides to most tales and it would have been nice to get the antagonizing side of things.  I’m giving the guys props for standing up for his morals, but I feel the drama portrayed things on a grandiose level than what actually happened. The result was making the government eviler, which will certainly split the favor of the audience depending on your like of the audience. A balanced approach may have expanded the audience liking, but hey to each his own.

 

The VERDICT

           Snowden certainly has the dramatic flair that will rope you into this story about the morals behind secrecy.  His tale is certainly intriguing and most will appreciate the added spice the drama brings.  This is certainly one of the better (and more entertaining) biographies I have seen, but most may not find it as gripping (or exciting) as the others. In addition, the one sided portrayal of this political topic may also curb your enjoyment of the movie so I again say take it with a grain of salt. Is it worth a trip to the theater?  I can say only if you are looking for a biography or have strong interest in Snowden’s story. I’d say save this one for a rental.  

 

My scores:

Biography/Drama/Thriller:  7.5

Movie Overall: 6.5

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