I am a big admirer of Oliver Stone, especially with his work as a director. But at the same time I will also state without any sense of guilt that I think it’s been a good twenty years since he made his last great movie. He started out with writing the screenplay for Brian De Palma’s directorial masterpiece ‘Scarface’ and then leapt into the public consciousness with his harrowing portrayal of war in ‘Platoon’ and then followed that with classics like ‘Wall Street’, ‘Talk Radio’, ‘Born on the Fourth of July’, ‘Natural Born Killers’ and finally ‘Nixon’ in 1995.
But since his biopic of old Tricky Dicky, Stone has drifted into not what I would brand as terrible films, but very substandard ones. In fact even that seems harsh because they are not substandard on a technical level, but more on a thematic level. Since ‘Nixon’ I’ve found that none of his films have carried a message as bold or as biting as his previous work. ‘World Trade Centre’, ‘Alexander’ or ‘W’ only reaffirm what we already know about their subjects as opposed to actually challenging us. Whether it be through the most grim portrayal of war ever put to film in ‘Platoon’, the biting evisceration of the mass media in ‘Natural Born Killers’ and as for ‘JFK’... it would be easier to list the parts of the film that didn’t attract controversy.
So when you break down the essential elements of what you would hope a film about Edward Snowden film would reflect, conspiracy, character studies and social commentary, then you look back at Stone’s filmography it is tough to think of a director more suited to possibly telling this story the way it should be told. Stone never seeks to recreate a 100% accurate account of historical events (if you want that I can recommend the documentary ‘CITIZENFOUR’), what he has always done with his best films is try to reflect the tone of these events in the most effective way.
I’m only saying all of this because I want everyone to know just how excited I am for this film and also why trying to use historical accuracy as an argument against it is virtually irrelevant. But onto the actual trailer itself, because it looks fantastic. It looks suspenseful, thrilling and morally ambiguous, setting the tone of the movie perfectly. In fact the trailer itself starts making you question to what extent you may be under surveillance right now.
The trailer does a great job of setting up the moral dilemma of the film, privacy vs security and while there is no definitive answer to that dilemma it looks as if the film is focussing more on Snowden’s viewpoint of it and his perspective. Speaking of the titular man himself though, Joseph Gordon Levitt is giving what looks to be a rather spectacular performance. I found it almost jarring at first but his transformation very rapidly grew on me and I found myself seeing Snowden himself as he carried out each decision. The trailer is also impressive in how it conveys a sense of weight with these decisions even though it is only two and a half minutes long.
Within those two and a half minutes we appear to catch a short preview of what could be some stunning sequences of prolonged suspense, one of the most striking was Snowden sneaking the data out of the complex by hiding it in a Rubik’s Cube. In the actual film the scene could prove to be masterful, I hope. Once again that sense of paranoia comes into play again at the end of the trailer as Stone somehow makes a ringing telephone seem immeasurably menacing. Most of all this trailer makes the film feel like an Oliver Stone film, and when I say that I mean a real Oliver Stone film.