Snowden | 2016 | R | - 6.4.7
Based on true events: A US contractor (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) leaks classified information about illegal NSA surveillance to the press. Faced with prosecution for espionage, he flees to Russia as the NSA comes under scrutiny. Also with Shailene Woodley, Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto, Tom Wilkinson, Scott Eastwood, Logan Marshall-Green, Timothy Olyphant, Ben Schnetzer, LaKeith Lee Stanfield, Rhys Ifans and Nicolas Cage. Directed by Oliver Stone. A few lines of dialogue are in American Sign Language and German with English subtitles. [2:13]
- A woman in a dark bedroom lies under bed covers as a man enters the room, removes his shirt, and drops his trousers (we see his bare chest) and he gets into bed and she lies on top of him, kissing him (we see her profile of bare buttocks) and she straddles him, sits up and the camera cuts to an overhead view of the couple embraced while we hear moaning and the scene ends.
► A woman looks at a photo of herself on her laptop and we see it in close-up; she is standing on her head by a dance pole, wearing only skimpy hi-cut bikini panties (we see her bare breasts and abdomen) and a string of twinkle lights wrapped around her midsection and one shoulder. A pole dancing class shows about 8 women wearing sports bras and tight dance panties as they hang upside down (we see cleavage and abdomens). A security scan shows a grainy image of a man's penis and testicles on an otherwise featureless gray body; the second part of the scan shows internal thoracic organs and another scene shows a grainy close-up of the thoracic cavity and organs. A woman wears scoop necklines that reveal cleavage in about a dozen scenes and in other scenes she wears tight short-shorts that bare her legs up to the top of the thighs. A woman wears a cut-off top that bares her abdomen in several scenes. A woman in a very short skirt walks across the middle distance. On a laptop surveilling a woman's laptop webcam we see her begin to remove her jeans and glimpse a flash of panties before the camera cuts away; a computer tech looks embarrassed. A photo shows two women wearing bikinis and we see some cleavage, bare abdomens and thighs.
► A woman sits in a man's lap (both are clothed), hugging and kissing for several seconds. A man and a woman kiss for several seconds in a few scenes and hug in three scenes. In a close-up of two clothed people talking a man puts his hand on a woman's thigh briefly.
► A woman in a club is shown wearing a bikini and writhes around a pole and hangs upside down (we see her cleavage and abdomen) while another woman in the background is dressed the same and also pole dances and another woman walks across the foreground wearing a bikini top that reveals cleavage and midriff with a man walking ahead of her as another man implies that he was in the back room having sex (the first man denies it).
► A man asks another man if he has a girlfriend, and the man replies, "Nothing serious." A man's boss says, "Your girlfriend is not sleeping with that photographer friend of hers," implying surveillance. A man says about another man that he is having sex with two women and his girlfriend does not know. A man says that the NSA tracks sex scandals among world heads of state in order to use the information against them (we do not see or hear any specific scandals).
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- Targeted SUVs explode into rolling clouds of smoke that fill the screen in footage without audio. A building explodes silently and we see clouds of smoke.
► An army sergeant wakes soldiers in the middle of the night by banging on a metal trash can and shouting; one man in a top bunk jumps down and collapses, holding his leg, cursing and groaning and the camera cuts to him in a hospital bed with two broken legs (one wrapped in gauze and the other pinned with long steel pins through the shin) as a doctor says that he has had stress fractures for weeks and we see X-rays showing damaged bones (the patient is discharged from the army).
► An army basic training group marches through woods with rifles and goes on to an obstacle course, grunting and shouting, falling, and sliding in mud; a drill sergeant shouts into the faces of some of the soldiers and they shout back.
► A man cooking at home stares into space and the screen blurs; he falls and has a seizure as a woman shouts, but her voice sounds far away; we see the man and the woman in a doctor's office where she tells him that he needs epilepsy medications (we don't see them) and he objects saying that Tegritol slows people down too much and his mother took too many meds; the doctor insists that he needs them. A man stares at a hobby-sized drone with flashing lights at a nighttime backyard party as it crashes into a picnic table; the screen blurs, he collapses, and begins to seize as other men and women shout, and their voices sound distant as the scene ends.
► Two men hunt pheasant with rifles, shooting down two birds, one of which is brought to their feet by a dog; we later see a cabin with a field dressing table and a large hunting knife with fresh blood on it. We see a close-up of opened carcasses on a grill, cooking in wafting smoke and we see three sets of ribs and some blood.
► A man and a woman argue because he says he stopped taking his meds. A man and a woman argue mildly about politics and being loyal to America. A man explains his stress, saying that he is responsible for millions of lives and must shut down many computer hackers globally. Placard waving protestors chant against the Iraq War and President Bush. A man tells investigative reporters, "They're [the State Department] going to come for you. They're going to come for you all." We see an Iraqi building in one scene and SUVs in another scene on a laptop and hear that the CIA has targeted cellphones of "bad guys." A man in Iraq writes up a worker for doing his job and finding a weakness in a security program. Two men speak on a wall-sized computer screen as one man puts his face very close to the screen and threatens the other man. A man and a woman argue mildly about computer security and he tells her to keep her webcam covered with a Band-Aid. A man and a woman argue, she shouts and cries and he shouts back. A man and a woman argue and he demands that she take nude photos of herself (please see the Sex/Nudity category for more details) off line and she refuses, shouting and crying. A man tells a woman that he knows that she looks at a dating website; she hugs and kisses him and apologizes. A man tells a woman that their house is electronically bugged and she cries. A man argues loudly with a woman on a laptop screen, his saliva spraying.
► A computer surveillance specialist provides a list of every threat originating from any phone, Internet application or web site against the US President and showing thousands of entries. A map shows over 3.5 billion cyber-surveillance actions in America and 1.5 billion in Russia by the NSA. We hear that America has placed sweeper programs in five or more major countries, with which the federal government can shut down all power to those countries, including hospitals, power plants, electric grids and all other networks. We see footage of small drones tracking all over Japan and a man says that if Japan ever looks like it is no longer a US ally, then the US will cut off its power. A computer specialist says that the NSA and CIA are tracking the actions of every person on the planet with video and cyber-surveillance. We hear that secret US courts approve surveillance, which is otherwise illegal. A CIA boss says approval or search warrants are no longer asked, the clandestine services just go ahead and track people. We hear that a man is deported after surveillance shows that he and his mother are in the US illegally; we hear that his girlfriend attempted suicide, but lived. A man plans to frame another man for drunk driving and another man refuses to help as the first man threatens to have the man jailed for illegal surveillance. We hear that when three NSA officials filed complaints about illegal surveillance, the FBI raided their homes; one of the officials in a TV interview says that it was a message sent by the federal government, "We will hammer you." A TV news reporter states that no one has ever seen any court order for NSA surveillance. Classified information on an SD card is reported in major newspapers and headlines read that the US president is facilitating the criminalization and stoppage of NSA surveillance. A voiceover states that a man is charged with espionage and theft as we see him escape capture in a taxi through Hong Kong until he attempts to fly to South America, but the US revokes his passport. A man mentions to friends that NSA surveillance is illegal and something should be done, similar to how the Nuremberg Trials led to protections. A man flies to Russia and stays confined in an airport hotel for 30 days, before receiving a three-year residential approval. A US official in a TV interview says, "He will die in Moscow. He's not coming back." The voice of Donald Trump comes from off camera, stating, "There is still a thing called 'execution.'"
► A man downloads NSA databases onto an SD card and is almost caught, but a coworker helps him cover what he is doing. A computer tech wears a surgical mask as he runs surveillance CDs through a machine that scars them to make them unreadable.
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- About 23 F-words and its derivatives, 16 scatological terms, 6 anatomical terms, 6 mild obscenities, name-calling (fool, moron, bastard, idiots, crazy, hacker, pathetic, witch), 2 religious profanities (GD), 4 religious exclamations (e.g. Oh My God, Jesus, Jesus Christ).
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- A man tells another man not to turn to drugs or booze, we hear that a woman attempted suicide with unknown pills (please see the Violence/Gore category for more details), and a man says that Tegritol slows him down too much (please see the Violence/Gore category for more details). Several bottles of liquor are seen on tables at a party, men and women hold glasses of champagne as well as whiskey and beer and one woman holds a glass of wine with rose petals floating in it, a man is shown staggering and slurring his words after drinking at a party, men and women drink from beer bottles as well as red cups that denote alcohol and glasses of wine, it looks like a woman may be holding a gallon bottle of bourbon as seen through a window, and a couple of tall cocktails are seen on a shadowed table in a couple of club scenes. A man takes a smoldering cigarette from an ashtray and smokes it in an office (we see large smoke clouds) and a man smokes a cigarette while drinking a bottle of beer at home.
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- CIA, NSA, illegal surveillance, ignoring the law, power, control, patriotism, politics, world domination, dishonesty, whistleblowing, privacy, security, Internet safety, danger, fear, stress, epilepsy, murder, diligence, courage, sacrifice, relationships, trust, justice, conflict, reconciliation.
- The US has a history of illegal actions in its clandestine services and whistleblowers have put their lives in jeopardy to inform the public.
Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.
We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.
Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.
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