A good man was always hard to find, but the internet and our cynicism has made that search for probable heroes almost impossible. A Google search often throws up proof of fallibility, and for ill-thought criticism, a scroll down your Facebook timeline can well prove enough. There is little certainty in our age of doubt, but there thankfully lives in Russia one man whose character seems beyond reproach – Edward Snowden. It was only a matter of time before Hollywood smelt the coffee and woke up to the possibility of a biopic. The trailer of Snowden does the dissident justice.
The impact that whistleblowers have cannot be understated, but Snowden’s disclosure in 2013 was not just a blow for authorities; it was a revelation that affected us all. The World Wide Web had been bugged by the world’s governments and no one, not even the craftiest spiders amongst us would escape. In the trailer, we see Joseph Gordon-Levitt (500 Days of Summer, Inception) get startled in the middle of sex. The web cam of his laptop, he realises, is giving the powers that be access to his intimacy. Nicholas Cage, at one point, tells Levitt that he has to find “the terrorist in the internet haystack”, and Levitt soon realises that in stacks of technology each straw can be culpable.
With Nixon in 1995, Oliver Stone had made it clear that he has the keen perception you would want in a biographer, and with W., a cheeky retelling of George W. Bush’s presidency, he had made his contrarian politics apparent. With Snowden, he gets an opportunity to balance his storytelling powers and his malcontent. It might perhaps be an effect of the limits that a 2-minute and 38- second trailer imposes, but the high-adrenaline suspense and action do seem to be a tad reminiscent of the Bourne Trilogy. It’s serendipitous that Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne releases later this year. Snowden and Bourne are both insiders who bring down the house from the outside.
A first look seems to prove that the Levitt and Edward Snowden make for a perfect match. There’s a nerdy innocence one expects of the former CIA employee which the actor does seem to have captured. Tom Wilkinson of course has himself played a whistleblower in Michael Clayton, and his inclusion in any cast does heighten expectations. It’s heartening to know that Nicholas Cage will be in a film that does not need him to be washed up, and Melissa Leo is almost always bankable. One image that continues to stick in the mind, long after having watched the trailer, is that of the Rubik’s cube Though Snowden had used it to smuggle data out of the country, it also has some metaphoric potential. Snowden’s mind is one where the world fits and aligns, and much like fixing sides of the coloured cube, he demonstrates to us the corrupt intent of voyeuristic authorities. “The whole kingdom, Snow White” – this is how a colleague explains the reach of the NSA’s surveillance.
So, much like the princess waiting to be wakened, we too may hear an alarm when this film releases.
Watch the trailer below: