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Snowden (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD)
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Academy Award-winning director Oliver Stone (JFK, Born on the Fourth of July) tackles the most important true story of the 21st century. Snowden, the politically-charged thriller reveals the incredible untold personal story of Edward Snowden, the controversial figure who exposed shocking illegal surveillance activities by the National Security Agency and became one of the most wanted men in the world. A hero to some and a traitor to others, the provocative story of what led him to that fateful decision makes for one of the most compelling stories in recent history.
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The film opens with Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) meeting journalists Glenn Greenwald (Zachary Quinto), Ewen MacAskill (Tom Wilkinson) and documentarian Laura Poitras (Melissa Leo) in Hong Kong. It is there he begins to tell his story and what he has taken and why. For an excellent award-winning documentary on this phase of Snowden’s mission, check out Poitras’s “Citizenfour.” We see Snowden in flashback as a small, but game Army recruit trying to make it as a Ranger. His weak leg bones wouldn’t hold up and he was eventually discharged. He then signed up to work for the CIA and worked in Europe, not only as an analyst but briefly as a field agent. That wasn’t for him.
A significant portion of the film involves his relationship with Lindsay Mills (Shailene Woodley). Frankly I was surprised to see that Stone, who also wrote the screenplay with Kieran Fitzgerald, spent so much time on this romance. I suspect to add some flavor as well as the human aspect to what otherwise could be a cold and calculating story. In truth, it is the cold and calculating portion of the film that is the most interesting.
As Snowden rises in the ranks and get access to more and more information, he discovers that the U. S. government is spying more on its own citizens than those of its enemies. This is all terribly interesting, very scary and evidently true. The film is flush with wonderful actors. Rhys Ifans plays Corbin O’Brian, Snowden’s mentor along with Nicolas Cage as Hank Forrester. Joely Richardson is Janine Gibson, editor of The Guardian and Timothy Olyphant is a CIA operative in Geneva and Snowden’s boss at the time. The film runs long at 134 minutes. Whatever your position is on Snowden, traitor or hero or something in between, the film is entertaining and leaves no doubt as to what Stone’s position is.
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