Written and directed by Academy Award winner, Oliver Stone, ‘Snowden’ reveals the story of NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden who leaked classified information to the press. Although the film is based on true events, Stone admits that the film is meant to be a drama and details have been changed. Was Snowden a hero or a traitor-that’s for the audience to decide, but the movie tells a compelling story with solid acting that may persuade your decision.
‘Snowden’ is based off of two books, The Snowden Files by Luke Harding and Time of the Octopus by Anatoly Kucherena. Harding is a foreign correspondent for The Guardian, who wrote an inside account of Snowden’s story. Kucherena is the Russian attorney that handled Snowden case and wrote this fiction -based book on his interviews with Snowden.
Edward Snowden played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt was anxious to fight in the Iraq war, but with two broken legs during army training, Snowden is discharged. As an IT specialist, he goes to work for the government in various jobs including the CIA. As an NSA contractor, he sees information he doesn’t like including the U. S. government’s mass covert surveillance of its citizens and becomes very disillusioned with the government. The film intercuts scenes of Snowden’s meeting with reporters in secret with the years leading up to the turning over of documents.
We see Snowden become paranoid and even feeling threatened as he begins to imagine that he is being spied on through his own personal computer webcam. This sets the stage for the thriller aspect of the film and creates tension between Snowden and his girlfriend.
Gordon-Levitt portrays Snowden remarkably well from his looks to his voice in his depiction of a very intelligent and computer savvy guy. The real Snowden is slipped into the film at the end, truly demonstrating the actor’s truly exceptional portrayal of Snowden. Shailene Woodley plays the part of Snowden’s girlfriend, Lindsay Mills, whom he meets online and begins dating. Their relationship is only a backdrop to the main storyline of Snowden’s whistleblowing.
Nicholas Cage has an unusually small dramatic role as Hank Forrester, a NSA instructor of Snowden’s. With less than five scenes, it is nice to see Cage in a supporting role. Other supporting actors were Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto, Rhys Ifans, Tom Wilkinson, Timothy Olyphant, Scott Eastwood and Logan Marshall-Green finish off the strong cast.
‘Snowden’ is a political thriller, and for those that keep up with world news, Snowden made a plea for a pardon right before the release of the film. According to news reports, he has agreed to serve time if he returns to the United States. All of this political drama makes for just the right story for Oliver Stone to tell who met personally with Snowden in Russia over a half a dozen times and whose mistrust for the government is clearly seen in his account by the whistleblower.
From the beginning, we see Snowden as someone who wanted to do good and feels that he did the right thing exposing the government. History will decide whether Snowden will be depicted as a traitor to our country. The film opens Friday, September, and is a solid film worth seeing.
‘Snowden’ is rated R for language and some sexuality/nudity. Running time is 2 hours and 14 minutes.
4 out of 5 stars.
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