Despite the fact that I’m not really one to enjoy documentaries or movies like them all that much, I decided that I would give Snowden a shot because my dad recommended it.
Just looking at the summary on my TV had me uninterested because it had been just about the vaguest description of a two hour and 14-minute movie I’ve ever seen. However, after I hit play and got about five minutes in, my full attention was on the movie rather than my phone that had been sitting next to me.
To give a bit of background, the movie is based on former CIA and NSA employee Edward Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who had discovered that the U.S. government was spying on millions of American citizens every day through multiple programs and agents. This had come after 9/11 when the government had passed a law that permitted them to spy on possible terrorists in order to prevent future attacks, but it was impossible to spy on those people without also spying on basically everybody else. Snowden had been the one to break the dam withholding this information from the public and therefore became a fugitive; some may say he was a “whistleblower,” or somebody who leaks classified government information.
The movie is technically set in Hong Kong where Snowden meets three journalists to show proof of the theory that “big brother is watching” and discuss why he decided to come forward. There are also constant flashbacks to points in time that pushed Snowden closer to his decision to blow the whistle on the government meddling in people’s private lives.
I think one of the most subtle and clever things about the movie was the constant presence of cameras, whether they were surveillance or laptop cams. They’re pretty hard to miss, but they’re also gone so quick that one might not think too much about the reasoning behind them.
The acting done by Joseph Gordon-Levitt is amazing throughout the entire film as he portrays just a few years in the life of a wanted man, and the entire movie in itself was phenomenal. It’s entertaining, and I’m sure there are a few scenes that are a little embellished for that purpose, but it’s accurate for the most part. The other actors like Shailene Woodley and Nicholas Cage bring the movie together in such a well-developed cast.
I would highly recommend this film for anyone interested in how deeply involved the government is in our lives because it’s a bit unnerving. I should also make a disclaimer that this movie is rated R, so maybe read the parental guide beforehand just in case there are parts of the movie that make you uncomfortable.