Snowden Should Be Fascinating. It's Not
Critics appear to love or hate Oliver Stone's film
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 16, 2016 8:28 AM CDT

(Newser) – Director Oliver Stone brings us Edward Snowden's side of the story of his NSA leaks in Snowden, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the man himself. Critics seem to either love it or hate it. Here's what they're saying:

  • This is "Stone's best political work to date," writes Tirdad Derakhshani at the Philadelphia Inquirer. For "a seriously talky film," it "never feels tedious, thanks to Stone's tremendous sense of story construction, the film's razor-sharp editing, and Gordon-Levitt's masterful performance." Plus, what Snowden communicates through the film—he met with Stone several times—is "chilling stuff, for folks who care enough to get angry or who trust a liberal like Stone to get it right."
  • But Joshua Rothkopf thinks the whole film is rather "timid and uninspired." "There was always the chance of Snowden's important story coming off as an underpowered Bourne movie, regardless of the director. But Stone somehow finds new ways to make it extra boring," he writes at Time Out, with Snowden coming across as "dull."

  • James Berardinelli also blames Stone for what he calls "a big-screen Wikipedia article" that "rarely comes to life dramatically." It "could have been an important film. It certainly contains important elements," he writes at ReelViews. "Sadly, unlike its subject, it's unremarkable and easily forgotten … This is a failing in the filmmakers' choices."
  • Bruce Kirkland at the Toronto Sun, however, says Stone "hits a bullseye." He applauds the director's ability to dramatize "a complicated, geeky, arcane issue involving computer spying and the technology behind it." Turning up the drama any further wouldn't have meshed with Gordon-Levitt's "superbly refined performance" and "might have made mockery" of Snowden's story, he adds.