DATELINE: Paul Revere or Benedict Arnold?
Only the redoubtable Oliver Stone would dare to take a story filled with blanks and replace them with carte blanche in the political conundrum, Snowden.
Edward Snowden, former CIA and NSA operative, turned over a cachet of documents to the media—and now resides in Moscow as the Man without a Country, 21st century version.
Hero, scapegoat, or nutcase, Snowden leaves ambiguity in his personal wake, turned into whatever the reader wants to make of it. His wake is most desired by the military-industrial lobby.
We remain skeptical that a man with no formal education could rise to the top of American security. When asked about it in the film, he answers he is self-taught. He passed all those government aptitude tests with flying colors—which ought to raise a flag or two.
There is much to admire about Snowden—if we overlook his emotional problems treated with medications (but not enough to remove him from sensitive material).
We might agree his brilliant mind overwhelmed his mentors and teachers in the intelligence/oxymoron community. He seemed to lack a sense that he was surrounded by extremely dangerous people.
Oliver Stone always populates his film world with extraordinary performers like Timothy Olyphant, Nicholas Cage, Scott Eastwood, Rhys Ifans, Tom Wilkinson, and Zachary Quinto. They more than fittingly support Joseph Gordon-Levitt who can provide the proper sympathy for Stone’s central figure.
The actual Edward Snowden appears at the film’s end in Moscow, obviously giving credence and blessing to the project of Oliver Stone’s direction and writing.
If Snowden is the new Paul Revere, these nouveau redcoats will catch him sooner than later. Recent reports are that Putin may turn him over to Trump to curry favor with the new POTUS. The deadly forces of spy networks may never let it come to that if this movie has any currency.