One of the biggest stories to make headlines in 2013 was the scandal surrounding Edward Snowden. As many of you are most likely aware, Snowden is a former Central Intelligence (CIA) employee who leaked classified information from the National Security Agency. Considering the magnitude of international coverage that the story garnered, it is not surprising that Hollywood has already come out with a feature film about the controversial figure.
Described as a biographical political thriller, Snowden tells the story of how one man managed to leak thousands of classified documents to British National Newspaper, The Guardian.
Fittingly, Academy Award-winning filmmaker Oliver Stone was asked to direct the film, as he has dealt with truth-based subject matter in past projects. In fact, when he was approached to direct the film he was in the midst of working on a project that told the story of the last few years of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life. However, after some deliberation and convincing, Oliver decided to scrap this in-progress project and devoted himself to Snowden. Alongside one of the movie’s producers Moritz Borman, Oliver proceeded to gain rights to the book “The Snowden Files” written by Luke Harding. In addition, Oliver also opted to acquire the rights to Anatoly Kucherena’s “Time of the Octopus” – both of which he used in creating the screenplay for the movie.
In an attempt to make the film as authentic and captivating as possible, Oliver and a few other members of the movie’s team actually met with Edward Snowden. Before production began, Edward, who was living in exile in Moscow with his girlfriend Lindsay Mills, was consulted and used as a source of research for the development of the movie.
Edward Snowden is portrayed by actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who is known for roles in such movies as Inception and The Walk. Shortly after confirming the role, Joseph announced that he was going to be donating his entire salary to “help facilitate the conversation” surrounding technology and democracy. A star-studded cast joins Joseph, as actress Shailene Woodley (The Fault in our Stars, Divergence) portrays his girlfriend, and numerous other notable names are involved in the project, including: Zachary Quinto, Scott Eastwood, Timothy Olyphant and Nicolas Cage.
The film’s theatrical release has been postponed twice already. However, it seems as though its debut is finally cemented in place for later this year. Thus, with its impending premiere, Open Road Films posted the latest trailer to give audiences a glimpse of what is to come.
In the official trailer, Edward is seen going through treacherous military training as he aspires to join the army. Unfortunately, this dream becomes unattainable, as he injures himself and is deemed unfit for serving the country as a soldier. This prompts him to seek other means of supporting America, which entails pursuing an opportunity with the Special Forces and becoming part of the CIA.
Inevitably, Snowden lands the position and is soon immersed into the highly complex world of the US government and secret service. Here, he discovers just how intrusive the government is in the day-to-day lives of the everyday American citizen. From tracking cell phone activity to accessing computer webcams, Snowden is shocked by the lack of privacy that people unknowingly have.
Using a Rubik’s cube as his choice of smuggling device, Edward proceeds to copy thousands of top-secret, revealing files to an SD card. It isn’t long before the US government and the CIA discover what Edward has done, which leads to a full-blown manhunt as they try to protect the secrets within the stolen files.
The newly released trailer has already received lots of attention, as people have been vocal about Joseph’s portrayal of the controversial figure. From the sneak peak, it is evident that Joseph put in notable effort to transform his voice in order to sound more on par to the real Edward Snowden. Speaking in a much deeper, monotone fashion, Joseph’s portrayal has triggered a rather polarizing reception from social media users. However, this isn’t the first time Joseph has gone deep into character for a film – in fact, he just recently starred in The Walk where he spoke with a heavy French accent while playing adrenaline-seeker Philippe Petit. Thus, we will have to see when the movie comes out if Joseph’s method acting in Snowden adds or takes away from the actual story being told.
One thing that really stood out to me about the trailer was the perspective in which the film seems to tell the story from. Based on the just over two-minute preview, Snowden appears to take sides with those who believe Edward to be a national hero. It will be interesting to see if giving audiences a more in-depth look at his side of the story will change the dialogue and/or opinions surrounding the controversy – especially amongst those who agreed with the “traitor” label that he inevitably earned himself.
You can catch Snowden when it hits theaters on September 16, 2016.