3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

Joseph Gordon-Levitt delivers in a film that everyone should see.

Snowden is a biopic covering the life of Edward Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) shortly before he joined the CIA, during the time he served as an NSA contractor, and when he broke the story to the world. You see his life as a whole – his experiences at work and how it affected the relationship with his girlfriend Lindsay Mills (Shailene Woodley). Many people already know the basics about Edward Snowden but not as many know about his personal life, so to see the full picture is especially interesting.

Even though he may not seem outstanding in the trailer (actually, the trailer does not do the film justice at all), Joseph Gordon-Levitt does incredibly well. He is able to mimic Edward Snowden’s voice and mannerisms so well, that after 5-10 minutes of watching you can completely forget that he isn’t the actual Snowden and just sink into what’s going on.

Accuracy can be an issue with biographical films. I feel shortchanged if I find out later that the story was fabricated. In this case, Edward Snowden himself has said that the film is “pretty accurate”. There is also the issue of predictability – it isn’t a work of fiction where anything could happen. This is overcome somewhat by the focus on life outside of work – a side which most people are unfamiliar with. Not only that – it’s shot in such a way that even in scenes where you know what happens you can still feel suspense and tension.

Most importantly, Snowden brings the issue of online privacy rolling back into focus. We use devices on a daily basis and it’s easy to forget we should be aware of the implications of this. There’s a huge difference in hearing news reports and actually being presented the information in this way. There is a clear and important message here, yet it manages to stay entertaining and enjoyable as a film. I had a similar feeling after seeing ‘Spotlight’ – but even more so, seeing as this affects almost everyone.

A certain politician is called to account – and not a politically correct callout by any means. I won’t name who it is because I don’t want to spoil the film, but I will say I respect the director Oliver Stone greatly for not being afraid to show someone popular in an unfavourable light.

Snowden premieres in Sweden on 16 September.

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