Critics Consensus

Snowden boasts a thrilling fact-based tale and a solid lead performance from Joseph Gordon-Levitt, even if director Oliver Stone saps the story of some of its impact by playing it safe.



Total Count: 253


Audience Score

User Ratings: 28,544
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Movie Info

Academy Award (R)-winning director Oliver Stone, who brought Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July, Wall Street and JFK to the big screen, tackles the most important and fascinating true story of the 21st century. Snowden, the politically-charged, pulse-pounding thriller starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Shailene Woodley, reveals the incredible untold personal story of Edward Snowden, the polarizing figure who exposed shocking illegal surveillance activities by the NSA and became one of the most wanted men in the world. He is considered a hero by some, and a traitor by others. No matter which you believe, the epic story of why he did it, who he left behind, and how he pulled it off makes for one of the most compelling films of the year.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt
as Edward Snowden
Shailene Woodley
as Lindsay Mills
Zachary Quinto
as Glenn Greenwald
Melissa Leo
as Laura Poitras
Tom Wilkinson
as Ewen MacAskill
Rhys Ifans
as Corbin O'Brian
Nicolas Cage
as Hank Forrester
Scott Eastwood
as Trevor James
Joely Richardson
as Janine Gibson
Ben Schnetzer
as Gabriel Sol
Christy Meyers
as Dr. Laurel
Jaymes Butler
as Robinson
Robert Firth
as Dr. Stilwell
LaKeith Stanfield
as Patrick Haynes
Rachel Handshaw
as CIA Polygraph Adminstrator
Christian Contreras
as CIA Psychologist
Parker Sawyers
as CIA Interviewer
Kenneth Thomas
as Warrenton Gate Guard
Michael Benz
as CIA Student
Nicolas Rowe
as Assistant Editor Guardian
Erol Sander
as Diplomat Party Guest
Stephanie Simbeck
as Female Drone Pilot
Ben Chaplin
as Robert Tibbo
Mathangi Ray
as Mother - Tong Lau Hong Kong
Ashani Perera
as Girl - Tong Lau Hong Kong
Demitri Goritsas
as CIA Supervisor
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News & Interviews for Snowden

Critic Reviews for Snowden

All Critics (253) | Top Critics (50) | Fresh (152) | Rotten (101)

  • Yet although Gordon-Levitt presence helps to keep us invested in the story, you'll be left wondering how this dull, overlong film might have turned out in the hands of a less bombastic filmmaker.

    Mar 21, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Stone's film is about as suspenseful as a trip to Ikea.

    Dec 9, 2016 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • It's a forthright attempt to engage with this fascinating, opaque figure and show what it cost him personally.

    Dec 8, 2016 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Clearly Stone wanted to tell it like it was with Snowden, and unfortunately that has already been done better in the tense, minute-by-minute fly-on-the-wall documentary Citizenfour.

    Dec 8, 2016 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

    Kate Muir

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • Juicy angles are set aside in favour of a straightforward, unquestioning biopic of a dull man who very publicly quit his job.

    Dec 8, 2016 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • Stone collects all of the silliest clichés about computing in a grab-bag aesthetic that tries every kind of pointlessly filtered or grainy look, but can't seem to fake a convincing webcam shot.

    Nov 15, 2016 | Rating: C | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Snowden

  • Aug 15, 2017
    Snowden is a competently made biopic that addresses immediate issues in today's world. Edward Snowden. Some may view him as a criminal for breaking the law and leaking secure information from the NSA, however the film took a more patriotic approach and portrayed him as a hero for revealing this information to the world. It's a very tricky subject. Did he have any right to go against his government and be considered a traitor? Perhaps, if it meant that the public knew that they were being spied on. Privacy is such an integral part of our interconnected lives, so my views may suggest that I agree with Snowden's actions...but as a self-proclaimed critic I shall remain unbiased. As a film, I thought Snowden was actually pretty well executed. Oliver Stone did a great job at balancing Edward's private life with his career which definitely made him more relatable as a character. I really appreciated the technical jargon, as a computer programmer I understood it all and felt like saying "Yes! I could easily become a hacker!". Alas, writing code in film is much easier than in my genius thoughts were shot down immediately. What really took me by surprise was the cast. ALOT of big names here that I wasn't expecting to see. Joseph Gordon-Levitt was perfect casting, took me a while to tune into his voice imitation of Snowden but I thought he was excellent. Rhys Ifans, Tom Wilkinson, Melissa Leo, Timothy Olyphant, Shailene Woodley (who's chemistry with Gordon-Levitt was slightly underdeveloped) and the one...the only...Nicolas Cage. Yes, stop what you are doing and gasp in revelatory excitement...Cagey boy, is in a good film. I thought the dramatic moments were tense, the plot was educational...all the elements for perfection were there. I just felt the structure was too basic and familiar. Nothing extraordinarily groundbreaking. It's a functional biopic and it succeeds in what it sets out to do. I couldn't help but think this was similar to The Fifth Estate...just better. Overall, an enjoyable basic biopic that addresses an important issue.
    Luke A Super Reviewer
  • Jun 21, 2017
    From Oliver Stone comes the powerful and provocative political drama Snowden. The film follows the career of NSA analyst Edward Snowden who became a whistleblower, leaking classified surveillance programs developed to fight terrorism. Joseph Gordon-Levitt leads the cast and gives an incredibly good performance. Additionally, the script is especially well-written, showing the moral and legal complexities of surveillance programs along with Snowden's internal struggle with developing and using them. Also, the film doesn't try to paint anyone as a villain, but rather sees surveillance as an insidious outgrowth of the military-industrial complex and advances in telecommunications. Remarkably compelling and intense, Snowden is a well-crafted biopic about one of the most controversial figures in American politics.
    Dann M Super Reviewer
  • Feb 07, 2017
    The existence of Laura Poitras "Citizenfour" makes a biopic of Snowden unnecessary and Stone does little to justify this film's existence.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Nov 19, 2016
    For once Oliver Stone creates a factual movie that actually plays it safe and doesn't go all out on the subject matter. This makes it far more easier to digest on the whole. A good performance from Joseph Gordon-Levitt too.
    Ian W Super Reviewer

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