Snowden film review ★★★★★
In the new Edward Snowden film, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Shailene Woodley wade through Oliver Stone's richly comical folly - and the results are mixed
The moment in Snowden that
fully encapsulates the film’s tone involves one of the funniest sight-gags of this
year – a joke that, in keeping with the film’s charming obliviousness, seems entirely unintentional. At the end of one
exposition-heavy scene, Edward Snowden finishes a conversation and puts his
Rubik’s Cube down on a desk; he then picks up a much bigger Rubik’s Cube, one
with more colours and tiles, and walks out the room.
Because that’s how clever Snowden is. His Rubik’s Cubes are
super-sized. He’s not like you and I – his intelligence is at least twice as big!
How worthwhile you’ll find Snowden depends on how familiar you are with the story of the man
himself and his part in the NSA/GCHQ leaks. If you read each new revelation in
the Guardian with increasing
indignation at the erosion of your civil liberties, then you’ll probably find
Oliver Stone’s movie to be a frustratingly glossy and smug dramatization of a
fascinating moment in world history. If you were living in a cave in the summer
of 2013, however, then Snowden is a
slick re-cap to get you up to speed. Either way, it still has Nicolas Cage in
Snowden boasts an
impressive roster of bad-movie performances, with Cage naturally topping the
bill. His is an an entirely unnecessary role, an auxiliary mentor-figure cliché
who only appears twice but is just sublimely ridiculous both times: if your
cinema’s audience doesn’t explode into laughter when he appears, then it
must have already left.
It’s a performance that might have completely capsized the
entire movie if the standards hadn’t already been lowered by the other performances
around it. Zachary Quinto emotes so strenuously that you wish he’d stuck with playing Spock, an alien with no feelings, and Shailene Woodley’s character is
apparently the first manic pixie dream-girl based on a real person. Joseph
Gordon Levitt gives his Snowden some depth but also a constricted, phlegmy
voice. You’ve just stopped finding it annoying when the real Snowden turns up
in a smug cameo and turns out not to sound like that at all.
But Stone’s film has the courage of its convictions and is
likeable in its daftness. It’s like someone made a Wikileaks film with John
Malkovich as Julian Assange and Giovanni Ribisi as Chelsea Manning. You’d
probably give that a watch, wouldn’t you?
|What||Snowden film review|
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
09 Dec 2016 – 09 Feb 2017, Times vary
|Price||£determined by cinema|
|Website||Click here for more details|