(2016) (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley) (R)
- QUICK TAKE:
- Drama: A computer programmer and analyst slowly loses faith in the U.S. government in terms of privacy issues and digital eavesdropping on U.S. citizens.
- It's 2013 and former CIA and NSA analyst/programmer Edward Snowden (JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT) is in a Hong Kong hotel ready to divulge what he knows about U.S. cyber spying on foreign governments and U.S. citizens to reporters Glenn Greenwald (ZACHARY QUINTO) and Ewen MacAskill (TOM WILKINSON), all while documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras (MELISSA LEO) records all of what transpires.
As he starts to tell his tale, the film rewinds to 2004 when Edward gets an honorable discharge from the military -- from a busted leg -- and goes to work at the CIA. Under the tutelage of senior instructor Corbin O'Brian (RHYS IFANS) and former programmer turned supervisor Hank Forrester (NICOLAS CAGE), Edward learns of the U.S. government's programs that are searching the online world for info on potential future terrorist attacks. At the same time, he begins dating aspiring photographer Lindsay Mills (SHAILENE WOODLEY) who has no problem not getting to know exactly what he does in his line of work, what with having grown up with such federal workers all around her.
Smart and able to solve problems and do coding quickly, Edward easily earns the support of Corbin and gets assigned to work with the like of CIA Agent Charles (TIMOTHY OLYPHANT) in looking for foreigners with ties to terrorists. He also meets Gabriel Sol (BEN SCHNETZER) who lets Edward view what the government is really capable of doing, such as being privy to everything everyone does online, including U.S. citizens. That doesn't sit well with Edward who eventually resigns from the agency, but he ultimately is back in the game as an NSA contractor working alongside the likes of Patrick Haynes (KEITH STANFIELD) where he realizes things aren't getting any better in terms of invasion of privacy.
Back in the present, as Glenn, Ewen and Laura contemplate just releasing Edward's stolen files themselves rather than waiting for a legitimate news organization to make up its mind about running that story, Edward prepares for the inevitable backlash and likely worse as he blows the whistle on what he thinks is a gross overstepping of boundaries by the U.S. intelligence agencies.
- WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
- Probably only if they're interested in the real story behind the film and/or are fans of anyone in the cast.
- WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
- For language and some sexuality/nudity.
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