SYNOPSIS: 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.


To some, Edward Snowden is an American hero but to others, he is merely an attention-seeking whistleblower or worst, traitor.

Oliver Stone is no stranger to conspiracy-laden projects; the filmmaker has previously tackled JFK, Nixon and Born On The Fourth of July. Snowden seems to be a walk in the park for Stone. For such a controversial figure, the movie version of the man comes a little too matter-of-fact and very much a digestible piece compared to Stone’s earlier achievements.

For the uninitiated, Edward Joseph Snowden was a contractor for National Security Agency (NSA) who leaked classified documents about the US government’s massive monitoring activities on the world to the media in 2013. It was another embarrassing scandal for the US government following the criminal investigation on WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange. 

Unlike Julian Assange who is a much more colourful character in real-life, Snowden is much more down-to-earth. He might simply come across as plain dull or just an ordinary bespectacled computer geek though his intention and principle for which he stood for is remarkable. Stone who also co-wrote the script starts the story at The Mira, Hong Kong where Snowden is holed up with journalists Glenn Greenwald (Zachary Quinto), Laura Poitras (Melissa Leo) and Ewen MacAskill (Tom Wilkinson).

Shortly, the narrative took us back in time when Snowden is recruited in the army, how he met his girlfriend Lindsay Mills (Shailene Woodley) and slowly his disillusioned with how the way the CIA and NSA operate. The pacing might be trying for some audiences who are expecting a high-tech chase thriller but this is not one movie that is going to sensationalize the subject matter. Stone known for his tedious research portrays Snowden as a man who struggles constantly for the hope of a better world. No doubt, Stone is portraying Snowden as sort of a hero for people to look up to.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt puts on a flawless portrayal of Snowden, from the way he talks right down to his mannerisms. This is effectively Gordon-Levitt’s best cinematic performance as at now. Under the direction of Oliver Stone, Snowden has no lack of star power. Rhys Ifans (The Amazing Spider-Man) surprisingly has quite a screen presence as Snowden’s mentor, O’ Brian and Nicolas Cage ought to be commended for his ten minutes appearance which surpassed most of his recent screen outings. Up-and-coming Scott Eastwood also has a role as Snowden’s superior with Timothy Olyphant (Justified) and Ben Chaplin (The Thin Red Line) in minor roles.

Unquestionably, this is a movie that makes you ponder over Snowden’s actions. Like the man himself said, he could have easily carried on leading his life with love ones and having all the riches he wants. At the end of the day, it’s not so much about Stone’s conventional treatment of the material but a glaring statement on the mundane, aimless life we are leading right now. 


The extras consist of 8 minutes of Deleted Scenes, a brief Finding the Truth promotional feature and most detailed of all, a 40 minutes Snowden Q&A panel which feature director Oliver Stone, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley and Edward Snowden via video satellite.


The Dolby Digital 5.1 delivers clear, crisp dialogue and the digitally shot movie looks fantastic even with various colour grading on DVD.   



Review by Linus Tee



Genre: Drama
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley, Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto, Rhys Ifans, Nicolas Cage, Tom Wilkinson, Timothy Olyphant, Joely Richardson, Scott Eastwood, Ben Schnetzer, Ben Chaplin
Director: Oliver Stone
Year Made: 2016


- Deleted Scenes
- Finding the Truth
- Snowden Q&A


Languages: English
Subtitles: English/Spanish
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
Running Time: 2 hrs 15 mins
Region Code: 1