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Snowden - Film Review

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by Elsie C (subscribe)
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Snowden - a hero, or a villain?
Snowden is the biographical tale of Edward Snowden, an American computer professional who worked for the Central Intelligence Agency and had been contracted by the United States government. In 2013 Snowden famously exposed highly classified information about America's illegal surveillance activities orchestrated by the National Security Agency (NSA). The leaked information revealed the extent of global surveillance being conducted by the NSA, supported by the input of other security agencies, as well as a number of telecommunication companies and European governments.

snowden, movie
Snowden, the movie. Source: Wikipedia

An initially idealistic believer in his country, Snowden becomes increasingly disillusioned as he realises the extent of his country's illegal activities. As his knowledge grows, so does his guilt, which ultimately leads him to leak the classified information. In the blink of an eye, Snowden went from unassuming IT guy to being one of the most wanted men in the world.

Director Oliver Stone skillfully documents the nuances of Snowden's life and offers emotional insight into his personal challenges. Expect to be ambushed by scary facts and leave with a residual senses of paranoia about being monitored by government agencies. The film successfully conveys the complexity of the main story without being overwhelming with facts or computer jargon. Surprisingly engaging for a story centered around about information technology, there is another surprise in the form of a cameo at the end.

Some call Snowden a hero for exposing the government's activities. Others called him a traitor and a whistleblower. His actions have roused heated debate about how national security and information privacy should be balanced. After watching the premiere of the film, my impression is that while he may be a college drop-out who gave away his country's secrets, he is also a man so tormented by the unethical activities he was privy to that he risked everything he had. Ultimately we all need make up our own mind by unraveling the facts about this labyrinthine story.

Critics have given the film mixed reviews, with an average rating of 6/10 on rotten tomatoes and 7/10 in IMDb. View the trailer here.

snowden, movie
Edward Snowden played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Source:
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Where: Various cinemas
Cost: Cost of a standard movie ticket
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