Edward Joseph Snowden was a computer whiz who wanted to put his talents to work for the United States Government. He proved to be an elite programmer whose skills caught the attention of the CIA and the National Security Agency. But he soon realized that our government was spying not only on foreign adversaries but also on allies and even hundreds of millions of Americans, going through their emails, texts and telephone calls. He hoped that some of these activities would be curtailed after hearing the campaign rhetoric of the newly elected president, Barack Obama. But Snowden saw the new president expand rather than cut back these areas of surveillance. Further, he watched those who complained internally about these government excesses have their careers destroyed and, in some cases, get arrested.

Snowden makes the life-changing decision to leave his post in Hawaii, travel to Hong Kong and release confidential tapes of the U.S.’s eavesdropping activities to the press.

“Snowden” is one of the best films of the year. It’s thrilling, informative and exceptionally well-written by Kieran Fitzpatrick and Oliver Stone, who also directed the film. It’s a rich production following not only the evolution of Snowden’s views and concerns but also how they affect him and his relationship with his girlfriend. The storyline also takes viewers into the governments’

security-at all-costs mindset, even if it means overkill in data-gathering and overriding the Constitution.

Equal to the quality of this film’s writing and direction are the stellar performances of Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Snowden, Shailene Woodley who plays his girlfriend, Lindsey Mills, and supporting cast members Rhys Ifans and Nicholas Cage.

As to cast diversity, Snowden gets a “B.” Films based upon true stories get more leeway on cast diversity because actors chosen tend to be the same race as the real people. One of the small but important roles is that of Patrick Haynes, a computer genius and a Black man, played by Keith Stanfield. Haynes, who speaks seven languages, is described by a colleague as the smartest man in the agency. And this character shows that brilliant, nerdy

computer techs come in all colors.

“Snowden” is entertaining and thought-providing,

and gets a See It! rating.

It’s rated R for language, sexuality and nudity and is 138

minutes in length.