Director Oliver Stone’s cinematic journey through the politics and pivotal events that shape America continue with Snowden. This time out, however, the scope of the film reaches a worldwide level thanks to Edward Snowden’s (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) decision to expose the illegal surveillance methods by the National Security Agency.
The picture, which serves as a perfect complement to director Laura Poitras’ Oscar winning documentary Citizenfour, takes a deeper look into Snowden’s personal life. Snowden begins with the titular protagonist leading Poitras (Melissa Leo) and journalist Glenn Greenwald (Zachary Quinto) to his Hong Kong hotel room to conduct rather important business.
Stone’s narrative shifts from Snowden’s time with the journalists (Tom Wilkinson plays The Guardian correspondent Ewen MacAskill) and Poitras to the events which led to his fateful decision.
Although it clocks in at 134 minutes, Snowden runs seamlessly through his life sans any lulls in the storyline. We get a closer look at Snowden’s transition to a right wing conservative and military man to, thanks to his relationship with Lindsay Mills (Shailene Woodley) a more liberal take on politics. Snowden’s growing disenchantment with how the CIA and NSA conducts its business, to the detriment of an individual’s personal privacy, are also vividly captured by Stone. Whether you believe Snowden is a patriot or a traitor (or maybe a little of both?), Snowden also succeeds as a subtle thriller about a man who’s slowly becoming undone by his exacting career.
Credit also goes to Stone for employing an engaged, A-list ensemble to the film, as Rhys Ifans (Notting Hill) delivers top notch work as Snowden’s CIA mentor. Nicolas Cage, Timothy Olyphant (as a manipulative CIA agent), and Joely Richardson also star in the feature.
Special features on the Blu-ray disc is the featurette “Finding The Truth,” a Snowden Q&A (with Snowden, Stone, Gordon-Levitt, and Woodley), and over eight minutes of deleted scenes. Though a substantial portion of the film deals with Snowden’s relationship with the free spirited Mills (Woodley), one of the deleted scenes delves into her foray as a painter. The sequence adds a bit of color to Mills, but considering the film’s length, it’s understandable why this scene was left on the cutting room floor.
Snowden is now out on Blu-ray via Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.