Director Oliver Stone paints a picture containing a man who was disillusioned by the government that he holds in such high esteem. Snowden’s (Joseph Gordon Levitt) patriotism was never broken — instead, his loyalty played out in an extremely unconventional way.
The film is told using a series of flashbacks. At times, this disconnected plow was a bit difficult to follow. The complexity of the coding and the intelligence required in order to comprehend the technology also makes Snowden’s job requirements challenging to grasp.
Privacy invasion of the American people and the use of social and economic control disturb Snowden. Should he abandon his comfortable life, or should he relinquish his integrity? This is demonstrated by his relationship with girlfriend Lindsay Mills (Shailene Woodley). It shows what he has to lose and displays his ordinary life outside of the CIA.
Throughout the film, he is a conflicted man, and eventually comes to a life-altering decision. Snowden secretly meets with journalists in Hong Kong after being undercover for four years. He reveals government secrets as well as his past experiences with the NSA. The repercussions of this decision are enormous.
Woodley puts on a compelling act that shines in certain moments, but at other times, is slightly underwhelming. Supporting actors such as Nicholas Cage and Rhys Ifans add insight into Snowden’s influences within the CIA. They help make the plot less predictable, and it is not easy to pick up on their intentions.
The shining star of the film is Joseph Gordon Levitt. He should be praised for bringing this household name and famed whistle-blower to life. Snowden is a complex individual, and Levitt obliges us to humanize someone who is difficult to understand.
I would highly recommend this film if you are interested in understanding more about a controversial figure. The film remains relevant in current political events and will curb your interest in conspiracy and the debate between safety and privacy.
It will make you question authority and the system that is in place. Based on a true story, this complex film will make the viewer feel slightly uncomfortable as they see how closely “Big Brother” might be watching.
Janelle Wilcox is a junior graphic design major. This review reflects the opinion of the author only.