Edward Snowden is one of the most important and polarizing figures of the modern age. His ongoing story is one that all Americans — or any citizen of the world interested in digital privacy and information collection — should familiarize themselves with. Well, it looks like controversial filmmaker Oliver Stone has taken up the biopic torch for Snowden with the aptly titled Snowden. The movie has been delayed a few times but it’s finally getting a release, so here’s the trailer:
OK, there’s a lot in this trailer that is so unbelievably heightened that it crosses over into comical. The visualization of information is straight out of something like CSI: Cyber, Snowden is made out to be some kind of stereotypical wunderkind, and the scene where he’s getting his groove on but then realizes, “Oh my God, the laptop camera can see me!” is goofy in the best of ways. Not to mention Rhys Ifans giant evil face on a screen or the ludicrous Rubik’s Cube scene — an obviously tense sequence that plays out almost in its entirety in the trailer.
There is some good here though. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is obviously committed to the part, putting on a voice that’s clearly striving for authenticity. Whether or not that works is another discussion. I am glad that Snowden’s story will be reaching a wider audience, even if it is in the form of a severely over-the-top version. The documentary Citizenfour — which actually documented Snowden’s leak as it was happening — was critically beloved but wasn’t exactly embraced by the masses like popular documentaries Fahrenheit 9/11 or Super Size Me, and I think it’s more historically important than either of those two films.
Oliver Stone is someone who thrives on pot-stirring and radical opinion. I’m certainly not against that in theory, but Snowden might not be the right kind of story for his approach. We’ll see what audiences think when Snowden leaks into theaters on September 16.