George W. Bush did nothing to stop it, and then when Barack Obama took over the Presidency, he vowed to stamp it out… and just ramped it up. Remember that if you’re wishing that he could serve a third term.
A failure to fully ingratiate himself into the army in 2004, thanks to a broken leg, led to him signing up for the CIA two years later as he “wants to help his country to make a difference in the world”. This leads to one of the film’s highlights where he partakes in a test to bulid and destroy, and then back up up a website (and then I lost track…) all in the space of five hours… which Snowden cracks in 38 minutes. As it goes on, it flashbacks to various key moments in his life to show the path he took, as he retells it all in the ‘present day’ of 2013 to documentary maker Laura Poitras (Melissa Leo – London Has Fallen) and journalists Glenn Greenwald (Zachary Quinto – Star Trek Beyond) and Ewen MacAskill (Tom Wilkinson – Selma), the latter from The Guardian.
It highlights how the governments of the world are always tracking every single one of us, or could be… or maybe we’re just being paranoid? Or are they really planting malware not only in Russia and Iran, but friendly countries like Japan and Austria, so you can hack them later if need be – like a form of control? Make your own mind up about whether that’s possible or feasible.
It doesn’t take long before you realise what a huge cast this project has attracted, as he starts a relationship with Lindsay Mills (Shailene Woodley – Allegiant), Rhys Ifans – with a convincing American accent – interviews and subsequently hires him for the CIA job, while Nicolas Cage is into crytography and the SIGALA, the follow-up to the Enigma machine. Cage, of course, acts the part of Nicolas Cage. As always.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt does a great impression of Mr Snowden in what became quite a long but a very undemanding watch. It’s not hugely brilliant – it’s just okay. I understand a lot of the facts came out in the CitizenFour documentary, which I haven’t seen, but that for those who have, it will make this film rather redundnant as it dramatises the same content.
Overall, this film is not exactly a fun night in the cinema, though, so more for one on the small screen.
Snowden isn’t yet available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD, but you can still buy both Citizenfour and the 9/11 Trilogy Box Set containing Laura Poitras’ documentaries Citizenfour, The Oath and My Country, My Country. Also, click on the poster for the full-size version.
Running time: 134 minutes
Studio: Vertigo Releasing Ltd
Format: 2.35:1 (ARRIRAW (3.4K) (6.5K))
Released: December 9th 2016
Director: Oliver Stone
Producers: Moritz Borman, Eric Kopeloff, Philip Schulz-Deyle and Fernando Sulichin
Screenplay: Kieran Fitzgerald and Oliver Stone (based on the book by Anatoly Kucherena and Luke Harding)
Music: Craig Armstrong and Adam Peters
Edward Snowden: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Laura Poitras: Melissa Leo
Glenn Greenwald: Zachary Quinto
Lindsay Mills: Shailene Woodley
Corbin O’Brian: Rhys Ifans
Gabriel Sol: Ben Schnetzer
Hank Forrester: Nicolas Cage
Ewen MacAskill: Tom Wilkinson
Janine Gibson: Joely Richardson
CIA Agent Geneva: Timothy Olyphant
Patrick Haynes: Keith Stanfield
Drill Sergeant: Jaymes Butler
Dr. Stillwell: Robert Firth
CIA Polygraph Adminstrator: Rachel Handshaw
CIA Psychologist: Christian Contreras
CIA Interviewer: Parker Sawyers
Warrenton Gate Guard: Kenneth Thomas
CIA Student: Michael Benz
Assistant Editor Guardian: Nicholas Rowe
Trevor James: Scott Eastwood
Russian Diplomat: Anatoly Kucherena
Female Drone Pilot: Stephanie Simbeck
Male Drone Pilot: Logan Marshall-Green
Robert Tibbo: Ben Chaplin
Moderator: Alan Rusbridger
Himself: Edward Snowden
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.