Film Review: Snowden
Boss at my silly day job gave me a cinema chain’s gift card for my birthday so Mrs. Jotascript and I saw Snowden this morning. I usually agree with critics and when it’s up to me (and not Mrs. Jotascript), RottenTomatoes determines how I spend my cinema (or rental or purchase) budget. I’ll even forgo a film I’m looking forward to if the Tomatometer disapproves but I desperately wanted to see Snowden and, geez, the trailer makes it look so good.
While I think the conspiracy theory regarding RottenTomatoes and Batman v Superman is, obviously, rubbish, there must be an Illuminati-level plot to poison the minds of the US public against Mr. Snowden because the film deserves a far higher score than the current 58%.
Many things are subjective when it comes to film-making and film-viewing but many things are not. If you believe Michael Bay films are exciting and worth every penny, I really can’t argue with that because you enjoy that sort of thing and I don’t–I would pay not to sit through Transformers 9: Dark Ring Around the Toilet Bowl and have made multiple bargains with Mrs. Jotascript so that she’ll take the children and I’ll … mow the lawn and work on her employer’s website or whatever. I can argue, however, that the dialogue, plot, story, etc. are shameful and heap dishonor on Bay’s ancestors, living relatives, and his cow.
Despite familiarity with the details of Snowden’s exploits (see what I did there?), I still found the film gripping and suspenseful. I agree, however, with those who say the film could have and should have spent more time on his “escape” from the Hong Kong hotel. As much as I loathe chase scenes (there’s an extended scene of Phantom Menace‘s already shoot-me-now pod race? Really?), that situation warranted one, I think.
The movie certainly isn’t slow-paced and complaints that his Wikipedia page is more exciting are unwarranted. My apologies to everyone expecting it to be a feature-length episode of Person of Interest. Oliver Stone shows unusual restraint. I doubt those saying this film is mere hero-worship probably neglect to say the same of Sully or Lincoln. Critics of Joseph Gordon-Levitt‘s performance as “subdued” or whatever obviously haven’t seen footage of the real Edward Snowden. Based on so many reviews’ comments about his relationship with Lindsay Mills, I expected the film to be somewhere between a rom-com and softcore porn. His personal life is relevant to the story and it seemed to me to take up just about the right amount of screen time. Sure, you could remove shots including nude photos of Shailene Woodley and/or the sex scene (just one if memory serves) but, golly, she’s cute …
Speaking of … little touches like her mentioning Ghost In the Shell in their initial dating site introduction were nice. Snowden certainly isn’t on the level of Mr. Robot or other geek-friendly tv & film, but it struck a nice balance of making it easy for lay-people to follow while not insulting those who know more.
The writing isn’t Aaron Sorkin (I happen to love him) but it’s respectable (with one notable exception: see below), there’s no needless exposition, and some parts are downright clever. I was actually embarrassed at how often I laughed out (very) loud. I’m dying to share my favorite line but I don’t want to spoil it.
Snowden is better than most movies. Can you wait a couple months and rent it? Yes, but if it comes with awesome special features, I’ll buy it and likely watch it again.
Even Nicolas Cage is tolerable except for the cringe-inducing line, “The kid did it!” which, admittedly, is almost enough to ruin the entire movie. Whoever wrote it is more deserving of forgiveness than whoever didn’t change or cut it.