It's an ordinary summer morning in Hong Kong. The smog is shining; some guys in a CIA office are shuffling papers. But then, the word comes: An NSA contractor has just landed from Hawaii. Exit ordinary summer, enter Edward Snowden.
And now, thanks to a small film company in Hong Kong, we have these tense moments in movie form.
In just four days, J. Shot—in association with Fallout Media and Immortal Peach (which is a great name for anything)—put together a five-minute film depicting Edward Snowden's first days in Hong Kong, culminating in his unveiling in his interview with The Guardian. The film, called Verax, is in its entirety below. But if you don't have the five minutes to spare, here's all the analysis of the short movie you'll ever need.
The movie opens with the kind of intense bass and synth soundscape that Chris Nolan dreams of. The visuals here are presumably supposed to evoke data floating around the Internet. But they much more closely evoke exploding electronic jellyfish.
The first words we see, after the names of the people and production companies involved, are "Based on the Events of Edward Snowden." Because Edward Snowden is an events.
The Hong Kong CIA Meeting
After a sweep of the Hong Kong scenery, we enter a CIA office. The thumping synths haven't yet stopped playing, so we are quickly greeted to the most intense cup of coffee placed on film.
From here, we get the first real dialogue and scene-setting action. Welcome to your ordinary morning meeting gone wrong:
The first line of the movie, "Alright, let's get started," is just a cool first line for a movie. This is where one of the CIA workers informs the others that an NSA contractor from Hawaii has landed, without reporting his travel plans in advanced. "S***, that's not good," replies a CIA worker with reasonably astute intuition.
The scene then devolves into a reading of Snowden's resume, including "Booz Hamilton," because the CIA hates that Allen guy.
Our First Sight of Snowden
...pretty much looks like a blogger. Although this blogger's soundtrack is set to DRAMA.
Hong Kong's South China Sentinel
Here we get a little sample of the journalism surrounding the Snowden affair. This scene is complete with one very unimpressed editor:
"Stop chasing nonsense, OK?" the editor tells a staffer who was in communication with Snowden in the most convincing "I'm a newsman" impression that he can muster.
Edward Snowden Is Bored
Can a five-minute film have a quick montage? Of course it can have a quick montage. Here's what Edward Snowden is up to while waiting for his big moment.
Snowden is bored by this giant green chair:
Snowden does "I'm in isolation" pushups:
Snowden, whiz that he likely is, solves a Rubik's Cube:
Hong Kong Police HQ
Here we get into some of the conflict that Hong Kong's government is facing with Snowden hanging around. "Don't we have a rendition treaty with the United States?" a police employee asks. Cue close-up police commander:
Edward Snowden Is Still Bored
In one of the last shots of the film, we catch a full glimpse of the actor playing Edward Snowden. And oh man does he look a lot like Edward Snowden.
The movie closes with a voice-over of Edward Snowden's interview with The Guardian. The first days of his story are now complete.
Really though, it's hard to think anyone could do better than this collective did in just four days of filming. And no doubt others will throw millions of dollars at this plot within a few years to try. But even with four days and about a $540 budget, this is going to be a stiff baseline to top. No matter how hard Jerry Bruckheimer/Oliver Stone/Michael Bay try.
Give the whole thing a look here: