Edward Joseph Snowden was a computer whiz who wanted to put his talents to work for the United States Government. He proved to be an elite programmer whose skills caught the attention of the CIA and National Security Administration. But he soon realized that our government was not just spying on foreign enemies, but allies, and even hundreds of millions of Americans by going through their emails, text messages, and telephone calls. Snowden hoped that some of these activities would be curtailed based upon the campaign rhetoric of newly elected president, Barack Obama. But Snowden saw that the new president did not cutback, but instead, expanded these areas of surveillance. Further, he watched those who complained internally about these government excesses have their careers destroyed and in some cases were arrested.
Snowden makes the life-changing decision to leave his post in Hawaii, travel to Hong Kong and release confidential tapes of the U.S.'s eavesdropping activities to the press.
Snowden is one of the best films of the year. It's thrilling, informative, and exceptionally well written by Kieran Fitzpatrick and Oliver Stone who also directed the film. It's a rich production following not just the evolution of Snowden's views and concerns but how it affects him and his relationship with his girlfriend. The storyline also takes viewers into the governments' security at all cost mindset; even if it means overkill in data gathering and overriding the constitution.
Equal to the quality of this film's writing and direction, are the stellar performances of Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Snowden, Shailene Woodley who plays his girlfriend Lindsey Mills, and supporting cast members Rhys Ifans and Nicholas Cage.
As to cast diversity, Snowden gets a "B". Films based upon true stories get more leeway on cast diversity because actors chosen tend to be the same race as the real people. One of the small but important roles is that of Patrick Haynes a computer genius, and a black man, played by Keith Stanfield. Haynes who speaks seven languages is described by a colleague as the smartest man in the agency. And this character shows that brilliant, nerdy computer techs come in all colors.
Snowden is entertaining, thought providing, and gets a See It! rating.
It's Rated R for language and sexuality and nudity and is 138 minutes in length.