Saturday, September 17, 2016

Review: "Snowden" (2016)


  • If you are partisan toward Snowden, you'll like the movie.
  • If you know little about Snowden, it's probably too long/slow -- you'll be missing the subtext.
  • If you are anti-Snowden, you'll hate it of course.

The movie wasn't bad. I was expecting some sort of over-dramatization, a sort of Bourne-style movie doing parkour through Hong Kong ghettos. Or, I expected a The Fifth Estate sort of movie that was based on the quirky character of Assange. But instead, the movie was just a slight dramatization of the events you (as a Snowden partisan) already know. Indeed, Snowden is a boring protagonist in the movie -- which makes the movie good. All the other characters in the movie are more interesting than the main character. Even the plot isn't all that interesting -- it's just a simple dramatization of what happens -- it's that slow build-up of tension toward the final reveal that keeps your attention.

In other words, it's clear that if you like Snowden, understand the subtext, you'll enjoy riding along on this slow buildup of tension.

Those opposed to Snowden, however, will of course gag on the one-side nature of the story. There's always two sides to every story. While the film didn't go overboard hyping Snowden's side, it was still partisan, mostly ignoring the opposing side. I can imagine all my friends who work for government walking out in anger, not being able to tolerate this one-sided view of the events. I point this out because with the release of this movie, there's also been a surge in the "Pardon Snowden" movement. No, the chances of that are nil. Even though such a thing seems obvious to you, it's only because you haven't seen the other side.

So if you don't like Snowden, at best you'll be bored, at worst you'll be driven out of the theater in anger.

I don't think the movie stands alone, without all this subtext we already know. So if you haven't been following along with the whole story, I don't think you'll enjoy it.

Finally, there's watching everyone else in the audience. They seemed to like it, and they seemed to "get" the key points the director was trying to make. It was a rather slow Friday night for all the movies being shown, so the theater wasn't empty, but neither was it very full. I'd guess everyone there already had some interest in Snowden. Obviously, from the sign out front, they don't expect as much interest in this film as they do in Bridget Jones' Baby and Blair Witch 2.

Anyway, as I said, if you like Edward Snowden, you'll like Snowden. It's not over the top; it's a fair treatment of his story. I'm looking forward to the sequel.


Bame said...

"There's always two sides to every story."
Except for Hitler, who should be killed, *even when he was a baby*.

Anonymous said...

Was there any observable difference in the "cross section of humanity" between the attendees for that film, and the ones in line for the other films?

The people-watcher in me wants to know...

Jordan said...

It's both a "fair treatment" and "partisan"? Those sound like opposites.