Edward Snowden Movie A Political Thriller, Stone-Cold Focus On Surveillance And Security

Oliver Stone’s film about Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor now living in exile in Russia, is looking to be quite a political thriller and perhaps will bring an opportunity to re-visit the discussion among voters about just what sort of America is wanted and who needs to be overseeing the surveillance and security in our nation.

The policy questions brought up by the film are what seem most important to the real-life Edward Snowden, per the quote by the real Edward Snowden which is repeated in an article and available over at Gizmodo.

On the policy questions, which I think are the most important thing for the public understanding, it’s as close to real as you can get in a film.”

Some may recall the debate Snowden had with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria regarding security. (See YouTube clip below.) In that event, Snowden tried to tell the world about his concerns on the topic of encryption. Listen and decide if he seems more like a concerned American to you. If a listener closes his or her eyes, he or she could imagine these statements coming from someone like Senator Rand Paul or Congressman Darrell Issa even.

“The backbone of computer security today is encryption. Encryption is the thing that keeps your money in your bank account rather than in a criminal’s. It is the thing that keeps our dams closed and our roads opened.”

Encryption is also “the only thing that determines whether the medical devices in our hospitals or the ones in the lobby deliver a therapeutic dose or a fatal one,” Snowden adds.

“Encryption saves lives. Encryption protects property. Without it our economy stops. Our government stops. Everything stops.”

But back to the movie by Stone, and apparently, the film, seen by reviewer Owen Gleiberman online for Variety, shows some story brilliance about Edward Snowden. While Snowden (portrayed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) sees “the bigger picture” about the defense of America and portrays “the Dick Cheney argument,” per Gleiberman, the girlfriend Lindsay portrays the more liberal point of view.

“Edward and Lindsay’s political differences have a touch of screwball-comedy friction.”

Gleiberman adds that as soon as Lindsay “figures out that he’s working for the Agency” and Edward learns she knows how to do an IP trace, it seems “a love lyric” and makes for a meaningful moment. As Snowden is assigned to different NSA locations, Lindsay follows to live with him in each place.

Edward Snowden speaks via video conferencing help in February 2016

It is a movie, however, and therefore there is to be expected that some amount of fiction is mixed in with facts regarding the Edward Snowden story, according to writer Paul Szoldra over at Business Insider online. Szoldra writes that “Snowden has lived under asylum in Russia for more than three years.” But he also quotes Edward Snowden as being at peace with the events of his life.

“When I left Hawaii, I lost everything. I had a stable life, stable love, family, future. And I lost that life, but, I’ve gained a new one, and I am incredibly fortunate. And I think the greatest freedom that I’ve gained is the fact that I no longer have to worry about what happens tomorrow, because I’m happy with what I’ve done today.”

Joseph Gordon-Levitt was told that maybe taking the role might not be good for his own career, as an interview and online tweet reports.

Below is the YouTube trailer for the Edward Snowden movie which can be seen in theaters next week.

Just in case some readers missed another report on the exiled Edward Snowden, Guardian reporters Robin McKie and Benjamin Lee state that the American whistleblower is not shy about speaking his mind in Moscow either. Mckee and Lee write that Snowden has been speaking against “the Kremlin’s human rights record and suggesting that its officials have been involved in hacks on US security networks.”

Edward Snowden movie and Oliver Stone

The writers also quote Snowden’s realistic priorities, however, as his lawyers try to convince President Barack Obama to grant Snowden a presidential pardon before he leaves office in January.

“I can’t fix the human rights situation in Russia, and realistically my priority is to fix my own country first, because that’s the one to which I owe the greatest loyalty.”

Real debate is long overdue in our nation some might argue, and perhaps this Edward Snowden movie will be a catalyst for more serious talk before the November general election. In that sense, Oliver Stone has done America a big favor.

[Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP Images]