This story is one of the most fascinating and controversial stories of recent history; it is the story of Edward Snowden. Snowden, an NSA whistle-blower exposed the activity of illegal data mining by leaking classified material. This film paints a rather chilling picture of governments spying on everyday people and observing their everyday activity. Whilst it may have been sensationalised for the sake of entertainment it still highlights everything wrong with government surveillance in a very confronting manor.
The cast of Snowden shine with Joseph Gordon Levitt portraying the titular character and Shailene Woodley as his girlfriend Lindsey. Watching the real Snowden in interviews and observing the mannerisms used by Levitt there is a strong resemblance of character and Woodley does an amazing job portraying a vulnerable character in one of her best recent performances. There are moments in the film where Rhys Ifans’ character discusses the need to be ready for the next terrorist attack or the next conflict and the need for secrecy that makes it almost believable that that the sacrifice of freedom is necessary.
This movie is a Biopic and whilst it may deal with intelligence agencies and espionage this not a regular spy movie. This movie does not have any car chase, shootouts or epic fight sequences. It tells the story of how a young patriot, who wants to serve his country, commits himself to the programs and makes an ultimate sacrifice and once he discovers the ugly truth of what his work has become. It delves into his personal life with Lindsey and we see many of the moments that would have lead to him stealing and leaking these documents but what the film does is make Snowden look like an average man in an extraordinary scenario. I found that this method compelled me more rather than focusing on just the event but showing the audience what were the influences behind his actions.
I give Snowden a 75% scoring it a Distinction.