The Film (5/5)
Oliver Stone is not one of my favorite filmmakers. If I were to list the films by him I've enjoyed I can count them on one hand. However, one thing about Stone I've always appreciated is his willingness to take risks with his subject matter and showcase elements of society, both socially and politically that many would choose to avoid. While many films get made about political figures, and historical events, Stone tends to take more interesting perspectives than typically biographical fluff pieces, and with his latest film Snowden he continues that tradition.
Snowden acts a biopic of sorts detailing the adult life of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. For those that are unaware of Snowden's story going into the film in 2013 he obtained through his government contract work documents which showed government wiretapping of American citizens. He then ran off to Hong Kong where he discussed this material with journalists, and filmmakers who then turned his material into news stories that exposed government secrets, as well as the documentary Citizenfour.
The film Snowden follows Edward Snowden following his departure from the military following a leg injury, and his life in the CIA, NSA, and as a contractor. During this time he traverses the world for his job including working deep undercover in Geneva, Switzerland, Japan, and finally Hawaii. The film contrast the story of his government work with his love life (it is a Hollywood film after all!) with partner Lindsay Mills. Their ups and downs and how they struggle to stay together due to the high stress level of Snowden's work.
Stone took a rather interesting approach to Snowden. Rather than feeling like a straight biopic, the film has it's story told in flashbacks from the Hong Kong hotel room where Snowden exposed government secrets to journalists. This in itself is not quite unique, but when watching the flashback segments, I couldn't help but feel like Stone was channeling the conspiracy thriller subgenre. Even though the film draws to a foregone conclusion in these moments there are tinges of suspense, elevated by a wonderful soundtrack by Craig Armstrong and Adam Peters.
The film also brings in elements of documentary in the final moments of the film when actual Snowden footage is seamlessly integrated with the fictional narrative footage. The performances across the board are fantastic, and Joseph Gordon Levitt turns in another dynamic and amazing performance as Edward Snowden. Shailene Woodley turns in an excellent performance as well as Snowden's long suffering girlfriend Lindsay.
Universal Home Entertainment presents Snowden in a perfect 2:40:1 AVC encoded 1080p transfer. The transfer has excellent detail, deep blacks, and colors that pop from the screen.
Primary audio duties are handled by an English DTS-HD MA 5.1 track, there are also Dolby Digital 2.0 and DD 5.1 tracks. All tracks are quite solid with excellent sound separation, dialogue and score clarity.
Not to much here, but there is a selection of deleted scenes, a piece called finding the truth, and a Q &A with Oliver Stone, Gordon-Levitt, Snowden himself, and Shailene Woodley.
I was more than pleasantly surprised by Snowden. The film was an interesting and compelling watch. The Blu-ray looks and sounds fantastic, though it is slim on the extras. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.