Purchasing a ticket for the movie Snowden is like going down the cereal aisle at McCaffrey’s; bland, no fun, and nothing to be excited about. Film director Oliver Stone had the great opportunity to portray one of the most controversial historical events of the century, but Stone did not take this opportunity; rather, he showed the facts with no whipped cream or cherry on top.
If you’ve never learned about the story of Edward Snowden and if you’re interested, buy the ticket. If you’re into flawless cinematography and visual arts, buy the ticket. If you haven’t seen Nicolas Cage on the big screen in a while and somewhat miss the National Treasurer, buy the ticket. Ultimately, you’ll learn the facts, but you won’t be blown away.
So, Snowden, who is he again? The movie focuses on his character during the time span of his impact on the National Security Agency and the public. One scene depicts the insane intelligence of Snowden, who is flawlessly played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Don Jon, 500 Days of Summer), in which he completes an estimated five hour project in only 45 minutes. Clearly Snowden is no joke. He becomes the top contractor, but leaves his job at the NSA when he discovers that the American government is tracking all forms of digital communication, terrorist groups, and ordinary citizens. That’s when Snowden decides to leak the information.
The film goes back and forth between Snowden’s meeting with writers from The Guardian and his past working with the NSA. Though seemingly confusing, the flow of the cinematography makes it easy to follow.
Not only do the visual effects help guide the movie from scene to scene, but they are just absolutely beautiful. Because the movie is dense with facts and information, cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle ensured the camera angles and the visuals of each scene were without flaw. His creativity weaving through each scene masks what may be less than exciting information.
Snowden serves a better purpose in a social studies classroom than in the movie theaters. At times, I found myself wishing that it would go further—I wanted to feel more frightened, thrilled, angry. But I felt nothing. Stone can provide twenty textbooks worth of information, yet barely elicit emotion in any way.