Blu-Ray Review: ‘Snowden’ Establishes A Strong Joseph Gordon-Levitt Performance Despite Hyperbolic Tones
Joseph Gordon-Levitt perfectly embodies Edward Snowden.
Based on the true story of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, “Snowden” is a dramatic portrayal of the events leading to the surveillance scandal. Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Shailene Woodley, this Oliver Stone film depicts Snowden as a hero rather than traitor.
Cinematics – 3
”Snowden” definitely carries an agenda rather than being objective. On the surface, the context carries the truth of the actual events, but deeper exploration is a bit more dramatized. There’s even a disclosure at the beginning of the film stating these exaggerations. Many may discredit this film’s plot based on factual accuracy but as this is not a documentary, my judgement excluded fact versus fiction.
Things progress steadily from start to finish but some plot elements are scattered affecting the fluidity of the film. Oliver Stone’s agenda of painting Snowden as a patriot was sometimes so apparent that I felt disengaged from the story. Edward Snowden always being on the side of justice didn’t feel genuine as there wasn’t a prevalent juxtaposition of basic human flaws. I thought the character would have been more relatable by showcasing a few indulgences or wrongs in addition to the plethora of underdog, heroic moments.
Outside of the character development, Joseph Gordon-Levitt gives a stellar performance. For those familiar with the real Edward Snowden, Levitt emulates him down to the most basic mannerisms. The cadence and tone of his voice, his look, and his quiet, reserved nature made me feel as if I were watching Snowden himself. It wouldn’t come as a surprise if Joseph Gordon-Levitt were nominated for an Oscar for his performance.
Many of the other characters serve more supplemental roles. Shailene Woodley has the most screen time among the other cast members. As Snowden’s girlfriend she carries a bit of influence in his development. Woodley is a logical choice for this role as it mimics her real life personality. She’s very liberal in her beliefs and carries a strong distrust for authority. This is shown to be an element in Edward’s transformation throughout the film.
Overall “Snowden” is an interesting but dramatized look at Edward Snowden. The plot is steady but scattered to a degree when it comes to a fully rounded story. Despite its flaws in character development, it may be one of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s best performances to date.
Entertainment Value – 3.5
Although there may be some consistency issues, “Snowden” carries a strong level of engagement. The plot is served in a piecemeal structure of subplots, but these subplots all carrie a certain level of excitement and intrigue.
There is a certainly a question of factual accuracy, but the “based on a true story” element does contribute to the entertainment. Questioning whether some events are fact or fiction is entertainment alone.
Things are not a thrill-ride from start to finish but a majority of the film does carry entertainment.
Rewatchability – 3
I watched this film twice in the span of a few days and the substance does depreciate a bit over time. From multiple viewings I found the second act of the film to be the most engaging. The beginning and end of the film slightly lost my interest but I had no problem engaging in certain scenes.
I don’t consider this to be a film that I would view on a regular basis but for Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s performance, the scenery, and the compartmental plot elements, I could definitely tolerate a group viewing a few times.
- Entertainment Value
"Snowden" is a piecemeal, hyperbolic thrill-ride. Some elements are dramatized but this film does not hide that fact. Some may be discouraged based on factual accuracy but Joseph Gordon-Levitt's performance is captivating enough for lasting appeal.
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