SNOWDEN Movie Review by The Commander


2-1/2 (out of 4 stars)
Everyone knows or should know by now the name Edward Snowden.  Just in case you don’t, let me remind you.  He’s the ex-NSA contractor who leaked information on government spying to the news media.  He’s the one that President Obama labeled a “Hacker”.  He’s the one that flew to Russia to avoid prosecution from the United States for espionage.  Now do you remember?  So it only makes sense that Hollywood would do a story on this very interesting person.  And who else would lead this project but none other than Director Oliver Stone, who never strays away from controversy. 
This film chronicles the history of Edward Snowden, when he was first in the Army Rangers as a recruiter and was released due to a medical condition, which would prevent him from serving in that capacity.  He then changes path and goes to work as an analyst in the military intelligence section (Central Intelligence Agency), where he becomes a rising star developing software applications for data collection.  His work does not go unnoticed and he is continually promoted throughout his career.
Once he discovers that his software program is being used for clandestine purposes, he resigns from the CIA and goes to work with the National Security Agency (NSA).  Once again, his talents don't go unnoticed and he is sent on assignments outside the U.S.A., where the agency uses his software of collecting data to illegally spy on private individuals.  Once he discovers their true intention, he leaves the NSA and begins to leak documents to the news media regarding the illegal data collection. 
This is a very powerful film.  It reminds me of All the Presidents Men, the 1976 movie about Washington Post reporters, Carl Woodward and Edward Bernstein, who uncovered details of the Watergate scandal that led to President Richard Nixon's resignation.  Oliver Stone is one director who is not afraid to tackle subjects of war or conspiracy in American politics.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt delivers an excellent performance of Edward Snowden.  He not only plays, but looks the part, as well. 
My only concern is:  What percentage of this film is factual and what is embellished?  According to some government insiders, he was no more than a low-level employee of a government contractor, which is totally different from the way he is portrayed in the film.  Additionally, Stone never discusses what harmful effects came from the outcome of leaking confidential government information.  This makes the film a little lopsided in the discussion, but does not diminish the impact of the film. 
If you like films that deal with espionage, intrigue and cover up, then this is your film.  Go see it.  You may not find the answers to your questions, but you should enjoy the performances.

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