Surely Oliver Stone’s best movie since JFK, this biopic of American whistleblower Edward Snowden is that rare treat: an entertaining thriller that also has something extremely compelling to say. While the movie will no doubt be picked apart for accuracy (much dramatic license is taken, in part because Snowden’s rigorously ethical position has been such that he has not spoken about any aspect of his actual missions while working for the NSA and CIA) there is no questioning the craft in this movie.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s subdued but rock-solid performance does seem an impersonation at first, but it grows on you. Melissa Leo and Zachary Quinto have fun playing journalist Glenn Greenwald and filmmaker Laura Poitras, who meet Snowden in a Hong Kong hotel room to get the scoop on NSA surveillance. Having seen Poitras’ documentary of these events, Citizenfour, it is eerie seeing them replicated here. The romantic scenes with Shailene Woodley (so good as the daughter in The Descendants) as Snowden’s long suffering girlfriend are also well done and certainly round out the character.