Snowden is the latest film by Oliver Stone starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Edward Snowden, the renowned whistle-blower who exposed the widespread surveillance of US citizens by their government.
The movie is set in the Hong Kong hotel where he gave his infamous interview to the media, and is structured as chronological flashbacks from the time Snowden was first accepted into the CIA. With his high intelligence and patriotic leaning, he fits easily into that culture and impresses his superiors with his analytical and computing skills.
In these early days he meets Lindsay Mills (Shailene Woodley), a budding photographer, via on-line dating. Walking through an anti-Bush rally we learn of the opposite viewpoints each of them has: Edward as a firm believer in the government as a protector of the people and Lindsay as a liberal. Despite these differences, their relationship blossoms.
Edward quickly rises through the department and watches his explain away any moral doubts about what they are doing, however we can see that the seeds of doubt are sewn in his head which lead to his revelations.
The film presents his life in a positive manner, and will be interesting to see what reception the film will receive in the USA. Snowden is still living as an exile in Russia with his partner and faces hefty sentencing should he return to American soil. His bravery in exposing what was happening in the government agencies has led to more questions being asked of how much power the US has over the rest of the world and whether the ends justifies the means as far as secrecy and surveillance goes.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is believable as Snowden and depicts the difficult period in his life sensitively and genuinely.
Snowden is a powerful and interesting movie that will leave audiences questioning the role of the government in protecting its citizens.
3 ½ stars
Reviewed by John Goodridge