By Liz Lopez

Rating: A

The highly anticipated film, Snowden, the biographical political thriller by filmmaker Oliver Stone that was to have been released last year, arrives in U.S. theaters after the presentation last week at the Toronto International Film Festival. Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as the U. S. government’s National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower, Edward Snowden, in this drama directed by Oliver Stone, and wrote with Kieran Fitzgerald. Based on the books The Snowden Files by Luke Harding and Time of the Octopus by Anatoly Kucherena, this whole production is well worth the wait, from the script to the actors who portray real people. Individuals will have varying opinions of whether the true life NSA contractor is a traitor, a hero or perhaps remain undecided because of lack of information about him, but this film is definitely one to watch and learn about the government’s Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the worldwide surveillance conducted with all the technology available by computer scientists and specialists.

Some people already share almost everything on social media and perhaps are not aware of just how much is under surveillance, but for others who try to maintain more privacy, this can become a wake – up call about all that is available about our activities, 24-7.  The film reveals more about who Edward Snowden is, starting from his volunteering for the military after 9/11, with expectations to do something for his country. When the physical needs of the job take a toll on his body, he pursues additional options to serve his country, given his extensive skills with computers. He applies for work in the CIA, as such skills can be used for U.S. security in cyberspace. His first interview with Corbin O’Brian (Rhys Ifans), is enough to intimidate many, yet the geeky computer scientist (Edward) is impressive and the boss becomes his mentor. He is assigned to posts in Switzerland, Geneva, Tokyo, and Hawaii, among others. It is later in the film that Corbin O’Brian appears downright sinister with the camera zoomed in on his face as he talks to the young man. Gloom and doom!

Some interesting scenes are within the CIA training center in Virginia, where Snowden becomes friends with a veteran of the agency, Hank Forrester (Nicolas Cage). Forrester’s office is filled with outdated, formerly used equipment, including the Enigma and the very first computer, all of which Snowden can readily discuss with him. This should appeal to fans of all things historical regarding computers.

The film also informs us about how Edward meets his girl, Lindsay Mills (Shailene Woodley), on a dating site and though they have political differences, she subsequently becomes his life partner. Woodley is an excellent choice for this role and immensely helps to bring the reality of their life to the public.

The screenwriter’s story takes us between the Citizenfour interview by the journalist Glenn Greenwald (Zachary Quinto), with Laura Poitras (Melissa Leo) behind the camera, and Edward’s life story that led him to make the decision to leak documents about American surveillance. There is a race against time during the interview process as the goal to publish Snowden’s information in The Guardian (London) is limited to the time Snowden still has available as he becomes a wanted man.

Edward Snowden lives in Russia under asylum and Stone interviewed him in Moscow, allowing for an appearance at the end of this feature film. Now to see what is next.

The film also stars Tom Wilkinson, Joely Richardson, Timothy Olyphant, Scott Eastwood and Ben Schnetzer among the many talented cast for this production that has an R MPAA Rating and a running time of 134 minutes.

Snowden opens nationwide September 16th and check your local listings for a theater near you.

Source: Open Road Films

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