Movie Title: Snowden

Movie Critic: Jenny Bui

Movie Genre: Drama/Thriller (based on a true story)

Ontario Movie Rating: 14A

Opening Date: September 16, 2016

Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley, Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto, Tom Wilkinson, Scott Eastwood, Logan Marshall-Green, Timothy Olyphant, Ben Schnetzer, LaKeith Lee Stanfield, Rhys Ifans, Nicholas Cage

Director: Oliver Stone

General age of people in the theatre: 20yrs+

Tobacco Use: ~3 instances throughout the movie (cigarettes, cigars)

tobacco impressions


This movie is based on a series of factual events that reveal the life of Edward Snowden (who is still alive and seeking asylum somewhere in Russia) and how he came to be at the forefront of the world stage. In a nutshell, Snowden is a computer/IT professional who worked for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the United States and upon learning top-secret information about illegal surveillance within the National Security Agency (NSA), he subsequently leaked this to the public. Controversy regarding the repercussions of his actions is still very well alive and universally widespread, despite his obvious intentions as a whistleblower.

What initially drew me into this movie was, truthfully, Joseph Gordon-Levitt (why yes, I do consider myself a member of his fangirl club). I thought he portrayed the real-life Edward Snowden really well, and despite the technicality of the nature of some of the computer programming scenes, there was enough suspense for the entire audience to get hooked. I’m glad that this movie went mainstream and I recommend everybody to watch it because it stimulates the discussion surrounding privacy and transparency, especially when it comes to those who sit in a position of higher power.

The presence of tobacco use can be directly observed in scenes featuring secondary characters. More notably, Nicholas Cage is considered a retired mentor, who Snowden meets by chance when he begins working at the CIA. Although the encounters between him and Snowden were sparse throughout the movie, the two scenes in which he was smoking was not of significance and it seems as if the cigarette was used merely as an accessory. For example, in one scene Cage is seen smoking a cigarette in his home and when he sees information about the US government’s surveillance methods being leaked on national television, he takes the cigarette out of his mouth in astonishment. Another occurrence involved a nameless character with no apparent reason to be smoking a cigar other than to serve as a background prop. The smoking appears to be largely unnecessary in these scenes involving minor characters and I would not have noticed at all if it were to be taken out of the movie.