Edward Snowden has just been liberated from Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow after spending a month reenacting The Terminal, a movie starring Tom Hanks about an Eastern European man who is forced to live at JFK airport due to a political fight between his country and the U.S. Now that Snowden has been granted a year of asylum from Russia, he has a world of Tom Hanks movies to choose from for his next big move. Let’s look at some of his options.
Snowden is still a target of the U.S. government, and he probably will be for the rest of his life. While many figure that Snowden will try to make a break for a South American nation, such as Uruguay, Bolivia or Nicaragua, he may fear that at some point, a more right-wing government will be elected to his country of choice, and will extradite him to the U.S. Snowden might also fear getting caught in transit to one of those countries.
Instead, why not find a nice tropical island and live off the land? Tom Hanks made do in that situation as a smarmy, unprepared businessman. Snowden, unlike Hanks (or “Chuck Noland”), would have the benefit of preparation. For starters, he could pick an inanimate object to be his best friend. Hanks made do with a volleyball. Those might be hard to find in Russia, but surely he can find a suitable alternative in the many shops and vendors in Moscow.
If we get too detailed, the connections between Snowden and art historian/mystery solver Robert Langdon fall apart, but in other ways, Snowden is halfway there. Like Langdon, Snowden has already uncovered many earth-shattering secrets. Now he just needs to expose the symbology of the NSA spying infrastructure in a series of dramatic scenes that expose the deceptions on which the U.S. government is based. Actually, he’s kind of already done that too. That’s arguably two Tom Hanks movies Snowden has reenacted.
This charmer from 1988 was one of Hanks’ breakthrough roles, and a current Snowden fantasy. Snowden who turned 30 in June, has already had a greater impact on the world than 99.9% of people twice his age. It’s been a wild ride for young Edward, but when he looks in the mirror, he still sees a kid with simple dreams. What Snowden would like more than anything is to go back to that magical Zoltar Wish Machine and go back to when life was simple. Is this possible for the real Edward Snowden? Maybe one day. But he will probably have to replace making a wish to Zoltar with a harrowing speedboat trip to Ecuador.
Deception, running from the law in airports and other locales, romance with innocent lasses who don’t know what they’re getting into. It’s perfect, right? Snowden has already done the hard parts of that, only the fun parts remain. The problem: that’s the Leonardo DiCaprio role. Tom Hanks is the one trying to catch Leo/Snowden. If we’re keeping to the rule of reenacting Tom Hanks roles, Snowden would be seeking to apprehend himself. This would be easy, but it’s not what he wants to do.
What if instead of one big moment followed by a life of hiding out in a leftist South American government, making brazen statements to get occasional media coverage (the Julian Assange story, which has been depicted in film, but not by Hanks), Snowden had a lifetime of adventures through American cultural and political history, meeting presidents, starting movements, starting a business, telling people all about it while they wait for the bus…ah, what a life it would be. Who knows how he would pull it off, but we do know that if he wants to get to “life is like a box of chocolates,” he’s going to have to start with “run Edward run.”