Director: Oliver Stone
Writers: Kieran Fitzgerald; Oliver Stone
Actors: Joseph Gordon-Levitt; Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto. Shailene Woodley, Tom Wilkinson
Someday, history might name this phase of human endeavor as the Disclosure Period. If so, the Snowden information leak will be at the top of the disclosure list. In this movie version, there are no gunfights, car chases nor snipers hidden in tall buildings. The suspense is generated in a more subtle way. We, the audience, engage in Snowden’s dilemma: Will he be hunted and killed as a traitor by a government which is willing to destroy lives to protect its secrets.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays the title role and he’s excellent. The techno elements of the leak is probably beyond the average moviegoer’s purview (it sure was for me), so the focus is on the HUMAN element. Snowden wants to be of service to the world, and his superior techno skills get him a job at NSA in no time at all. Then he discovers secrets which erode at his conscience: Is the constitution being sabotaged for the sake of so-called “national security,” bypassing ethical and moral considerations? He remains silent as he witnesses arguable “atrocities.” Ultimately, he reaches a point where he cannot endure what he personally feels is a wanton disregard of human “rights.” Knowing he will probably be branded a “traitor,” he decides to listen to his inner truth and disclose information to the public. He distances himself from close friends and family and launches into a journey that will brand him for the rest of his life. It will inevitably compromise his health and he knows the ramifications of his act will burden his conscience for as long as he lives.
Gordon-Levitt shows us the angst and turmoil of Snowden’s choice as we witness the sacrifices he must make to complete his self-appointed task. Shailene Woodley is affecting and passionate as his girlfriend, and Tom Wilkinson (who excelled in a previous disclosure movie, “Michael Clayton”) connects in his journalist role.
In terms of blockbuster numbers, this ain’t a movie that fits in that category. Nevertheless, in terms of significance and importance, it should be at the top of the list. It’s a “must see” for self-aware, courageous people who refuse to blindly follow authority “just because” they’re authority. It’s for people who question complex situations which generate the dilemma of what the ethical and moral principles are of “greater good.” Who defines the parameters of “the greater good”? At what point is one individual's life more valuable than "the greater good?" Difficult questions, but someone has to ask them.
TAGS: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Wood, Oliver Stone, Kieran Fitzgerald, Disclosure, SNOWDEN, Surveillance, Tom Wilkinson, Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto