Time to get paranoid. This is a documentary about Edward Snowden, a security consultant who is responsible for leaking classified information from the NSA to the mainstream media in June of 2013. This was not a subject matter I knew a lot about; I really don’t watch a whole lot mainstream news, and it has to be a pretty big story to reach my ears. I’m not proud of this fact, but I’m just calling it like it is. When this started, I was worried that too much of this would go over my head; you’re listening to court cases where they are using fancy language, and they’re not afraid to pull out acronyms without even revealing what they stand for. It seemed really dense, and it played like it was made by a paranoid schizophrenic who watches too much CNN. Just when I was about to give up hope, that’s when Snowden gets onscreen, and he is able to break everything down so it is understandable in plain English.
I’ve been told that I (circa 2010) look pretty similar to him. What do you think?
Snowden has genius level intelligence, and he is personable and charismatic enough so you instantly start to like and relate to him. During the run of this movie, you feel like you really get to know him on a personal level; if I ever had the opportunity to have a beer with this man and pick his brain, I would do it in a heartbeat. He has a wealth of information, and in many ways he knows too much. He knows what makes the gears of government turn, and it is some scary stuff. He knew exactly how to leak the information, all of the repercussions, and the approximate amount of time he would need to get out of the country. It completely depends on who you are talking to if he should be labeled a patriot or a traitor.
Only time will tell how he is remembered.
This is really fascinating material, as this is real life Spy vs. Spy. It’s hard to believe this kind of surveillance is happening all in the name of Homeland Security, but it’s all factual and there’s proof. It’s a tricky tightrope to walk where both sides of the argument are justifiable; without question, nobody wants another 9/11, but is it worth it when it comes at the price of completely giving up our freedom of privacy? There’s no easy answer to this problem, and this is a documentary that you can debate. This sparked my interest enough to even do further research online, so you know this film did its job.
Citizenfour (2014) ****
– Critic for Hire