What ever your take is on Edward Snowden; patriot, traitor, or something in between, we cannot deny that he did something that changed our government forever. Let me begin by stating the fact that Joseph Gordon-Levitt (The Dark Night Rises, Looper, 500 Days of summer) is one of the most underrated actors in Hollywood at the moment, and director Oliver Stone brings him to the forefront.
If you don’t know who Edward Snowden is you might want to pick up a Time magazine, or New York Times and catch up a bit although Stone is pretty thorough in giving you the entire story from “the inside.” I will not be getting into it and I’ll just let the film inform you. The film takes you from Snowden’s early failed military career to his current state of exile in Russia where he still remains to this day hoping for a pardon from our current President Obama.
The script, co-written by Oliver Stone (Natural Born Killers, Platoon) and Kieran Fitzgerald (The Homesman, The Ballad of Esequiel Hernandez) keys into the high points of the drama. Snowden dismissed out of Special forces due to health issues, meeting Hank Forrester (Nicholas Cage) when he’s recruited by the CIA and learning the truth that he was sidelined by the agency for speaking the truth to the higher power. How he impresses head honcho Corbin O’Brian (Rhys Ifans), who sees Snowden’s talents but from that day forward keeps a spy on him at all times. And the key figure in his decision of doing the right thing, his love interest Lindsay Mills played by Shailene Woodley. Mills is a key figure in breaking away Snowden’s conservative views and resistance. She becomes his conscience.
The film is far from perfect, but in Oliver Stone style he gets you into the middle of it and at times you feel as if you’re sitting in that hotel room in Hong Kong during the final interview when he goes public. Gordon-Levitt is fully committed to his role and by the end of the film when the real Snowden appears on camera you are not surprised. Although the film does a good job at telling you the story behind it, it feels a little superficial and wanting to know more or dig a little deeper. I’m not sure if this is an Oscar contender for best film, but I would definitely throw Gordon-Levitt in the mix for a lead actor nomination.
By Hiram Trillo
Running Time 134 min