The Factory Times is the school newspaper for SUNY Poly.

Snowden - Movie Review

On September 16, 2016, Endgame Entertainment released a film about the problem regarding national security and individual privacy. But it's not just any problem, it's THE problem.

“Edward Joseph Snowden” is not a common name that pops up in everyday conversations nor, is it one that is well-known. By those who do know him, he is notable for one major action exposing the NSA and the Department of Defense for the undisclosed mass surveillance and covert wiretapping of the widespread population of the United States. For those unfamiliar with the whole Snowden issue, the film encapsulates the viewers of all categories by combining the factual events of his career to the art of the cinematic industry.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays the titular character with Shailene Woodley, Nicolas Cage, and others supporting him. Gordon-Levitt was flown out in secrecy to Russia where Snowden resides and learned his mannerisms and verbal etiquette in order to prepare for his role. As he is a quirky actor himself, he was praised for his unique adaption of the character.

The film starts off in June of 2013, about a month after he resigns from his final position as a government employee and only hours before he reveals the clandestine reconnaissance of the National Security Agency. From there, it backtracks to 2007 with Snowden’s first employment with the Central Intelligence Agency where he first comes in contact with XKeyscore in Geneva, Switzerland. XKeyscore was a computer program first used by the National Security Agency for searching and analyzing global Internet data. By its definition, XKS seems like a harmless program- it’s similar to a Google search engine but on steroids. It searches for the inputted keywords through emails, private messages, posts, video tags, and anything else you could possibly think of. The film highlights Snowden’s major employments with government contractors up until his last position in Hawaii where the movie draws to a close.

The issue regarding Snowden’s actions is one that has been debated and argued upon for the last three years. Yes, he violated the Espionage Act but is he as guilty as one might think? Do his actions against the Constitution justify the practices the government was committing against the citizens of the United States? No one has contributed an answer that is both fair to the Government and to Snowden and until this is resolved, the issue surrounding national security vs. individual privacy will not be atoned. The film is a great eye-opener and I highly recommend it to all.

Winter