Although I read a newspaper everyday since my youth, I will be the 1st to admit I would cursory read the stories on National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. With that being said, I didn’t have the new film “Snowden” high on my movie watching list—my bad.
This Oliver Stone film addresses a talented government contractor and CIA employee who encounters significant issues with government invasion of privacy that personally causes him serious angst.
Folks can argue what the heck do I care that big brother is watching because I have nothing to hide as long as they get the bad guys. On the other hand when Is too much…too much information of privacy (when does it cross the line for John Q. public).
I knew this movie was getting just pretty medium reviews as it is not an overly sexy storyline. In addition, no big stars headline this film to pull the box office numbers (Though roles for prime time actors like Tom Wilkinson, Melissa Leo and Nicholas Cage).
But there is something both sobering and reflective about the film and the role of Snowden. Government post 9-11 efforts to gather intelligence on most citizens via multiple modes of collection no doubt created a national dialog that continues today. The film showcases his enthusiastic efforts to develop surveillance software and is computer wizardry that made him an uber talent within the government and a vital asset.
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Finally Snowden breaks and senses a need to take the government secrets, travel to protected countries and subsequently break the story thru The Guardian media outlet. The tension involving the interviews with Snowden in Russia, the worldwide attention on this issue, the story and Snowden became huge with the leaking of classified information.
The international tension between Russia (where he still is today) and the US only magnifies the whole story.
I enjoyed the film. The audience is not privy at all to any aspects of this upbringing, value system, computer training etc. So it is a bit perplexing how a high school drop-out becomes a CIA super computer genius. Having the same lack of background provides the viewer with zero context of where/how Snowden drew his personal line in the sand and then made his decision.
Still an important film