film reel image

film reel image

Monday, September 19, 2016

Snowden 2016 * * * 1/2 Stars

SnowdenDirector: Oliver Stone
Year: 2016
Rated R
Rating: * * * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley, Melissa Leo

I had one thought going into Oliver Stone's latest film. The issue isn't whether Stone is being paranoid. The issue is whether he's being paranoid enough. Natch.

So OK, conspiracy, controversy, yesteryear, and a persecution complex to boot. That's the Stoney way. And with Snowden (my latest review), he gives us his best film since Any Given Sunday.

Image result for snowden 2016 movie scenesOverall, Snowden is heads and tails above Oliver's box office bomb Alexander, his weak sequel in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, and his conventional World Trade Center from a decade ago. It feels like the flick he was born to make. Granted, I don't know why Snowden's initial release was delayed (it was suppose to come out Christmas Day circa 2015). As a film, it doesn't appear as though it needed any additional scenes or reshoots.

Virtually nonviolent, dialogue driven and containing crisp cinematography, Snowden can be classified rather as violence of the mind, an absorbing multilayered drama, a frills-free thriller. No one feels safe in this movie and you know what, no one should. Oh and I almost forgot, there's a sequence where a drone flies above troupers heads (at a party) and then crashes to the ground. Man those things give me the creeps.

Anyway, this is a return to form for the ripe, 70-year-old filmmaker. In truth, it might not be as flashy as some of his best work from the 1990's. Nevertheless, he brings some of his old tricks back to the table anyway. With Snowden, there is some indulgence with visuals in the form of freeze frames, archive footage, and even slight animation. Stone as expected, also gives us a script in Snowden that seems to wanna speculate on facts even though everything is supposedly based on a true story (this isn't necessarily a bad thing). Finally, Stone revels in casting well known actors/actresses that fade in and out of the proceedings. Snowden has brief appearances by Scott Eastwood, Melissa Leo, Tom Wilkinson, Nicolas Cage, Timothy Olyphant, and Rhys Ifans. Again, this isn't a negative connotation towards Oliver Stone. It's just you know, predicted.

Resembling a neutered version of Stone's own masterful JFK and a shortened version of 2006's The Good Shepard, Snowden chronicles the main character of real-life, CIA whistleblower Edward Joseph Snowden (played brilliantly by consummate chameleon, Joseph Gordon-Levitt). Much of the film is told in flashbacks from 2004 to present day in 2013. Ed Snowden journeys from being a discharged Special Forces candidate to a "security specialist" to working for the Central Intelligence Agency to being a lead technologist at NASA. The movie also gives insight into Edward's long-standing relationship with his girlfriend, Lindsay Mills (Shailene Woodley).

Image result for snowden movie scenes
Bottom line: Oliver Stone's work always seems to be overfilled with ideas. He's the mad dog filmmaker, the guy who conjectures, the guy whose storytelling sensibilities go a little off-kilter. Snowden is an example of this but like most of his best vehicles, it brims with energy, fire, and eerie secrecy. My nephew and movie critic colleague gave it four stars. I thought it dragged a bit at 138 minutes but still stuck with me long after the closing credits came up. My overall rating: 3 and a half stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

No comments:

Post a Comment