“Snowden” is the kind of film that Right-Wingers always said that Stone liked to direct. As I sat through the film twice, I fought back my rational side. Stone was making an important movie about a great American patriot. He was telling the story that needed to be told. Then, I closed my eyes and listened to the dialogue flow.
Every beat, every scene and every character is set up like a 13 year old writing a book report. Character A is a neophyte prodigy, Character B wants to exploit that talent and Character C is the only person that knows the real Character A. Swap the three dynamics in and out for two hours and you’ve got a movie. Every single scene is setup to treat Snowden like a babe in the woods. After all, Snowden was just an Intel expert who spent years in the military and working with the CIA. Prism was his first rodeo and it scared him into being a Patriot.
Rhys Ifans and Nicolas Cage get to chew scenery for a bit, but all they are doing is performing extended Mr. X roles. They are big government boogeymen who lure young talent away from private life and build government death algorithms with their intellect. Shades of “Pinocchio” play throughout scenes, as Snowden feels himself being slowly lured into his life. Then, the realization hits. If they can do this to anyone, they can do it to me.
Faster than a granny reading a chain e-mail about covering up your webcam, Snowden is helped by the brave media to fight the wicked tech savvy government. The excessive use of fairy tale language and grand flourish is slightly alarming. What is actually one of the defining cultural moments of the last decade has become the stuff of minute long political ads. It’s scare tactics narrative without proper framing and understanding. As I look back through Stone’s film library, the closest comparison I can draw is his work on “Scarface”.
While Stone was only the screenwriter, the lack of understanding of the subject material permeates throughout every inch of the film. But, if you’re making a fantasy…it doesn’t need to be accurate. This is celluloid cool nerd espionage for the Hipster set that wants to feel better about their pet cause of the day. Stone has made better and America deserves better.
- 2 hrs and 14 mins
- Open Road
RELEASE DATE: 9/16/16
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