“Snowden” (Open Road)

Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars in a scene from the movie "Snowden." The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. (CNS/Open Road Films)

By Catholic News Service

Interesting but one-sided and overlong biography of Edward Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), the controversial former intelligence officer who, in 2013, revealed to the press the existence of a secret National Security Agency program for the collection of mass data that he considered abusive.

As Snowden recalls the events of his life, beginning with his service in the Army, for the benefit of a documentary filmmaker (Melissa Leo), and plots how to carry out his leak with two reporters (Zachary Quinto and Tom Wilkinson), director and co-writer Oliver Stone initially presents his protagonist as a conscientious man pulled in different directions by his loyalty to the government, his larger sense of duty and his love for his live-in girlfriend (Shailene Woodley). Once Snowden resolves on his eventual course of action, however, a hero-worshipping tone takes hold to a degree that mars the film’s effectiveness.

Since the proper balance between security and privacy is a prudential judgment about which viewers of faith are free to disagree, adult moviegoers, some of whom may be put off by the picture’s brief but explicit portrayal of sexuality, will have to draw their own conclusions.

A graphic scene of nonmarital sexual activity, images of upper female nudity as well as partial nudity in a strip club, a few uses of profanity, frequent rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

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