It’s not hard to see why Oliver Stone was attracted to the story of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden: both served their country in the military; both have been pilloried for exposiap
The only consequences Stone has had to face, however, are some bad reviews from critics, which is hardly comparable to Snowden’s forced exile in Russia.
Nevertheless, Stone’s obvious admiration shines through in Snowden, a rather hagiographic biopic that gets by thanks to Joseph Gordon-Levitt, uncanny performance in the title role.
The fundamental problem with the film is that the most exciting part has already been told in the award-winning dcoumentary film Citizenfour, Laura Poitras’s astonishing fly-on-the-wall account of how she and journalists Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill originally met with Edward Snowden and broke the story about the American government’s mass surveillance programmes.
Stone uses a dramatised version of this as a framing device – with Zachary Quinto as Greenwald and Tom Wilkinson as MacAskill – but as he jumps back and forth in time to present a more complete picture of the how Snowden got to this point, he doesn’t quite get under his skin.
Still, in its own typically bombastic way, the film is not unentertaining.