'Snowden' Trailer: Oliver Stone's Close-Up on the World's Most Famous Whistleblower

The first trailer for SnowdenOliver Stone’s portrait of Edward Snowden, the man who leaked classified documents in 2013 in an effort to expose pervasive government surveillance — is now online. Even though it runs for less than three minutes, the clip manages to touch on many of the key moments in Snowden’s biography: his attempt to join the Army’s Special Forces, an effort thwarted by an injury; his subsequent work for the CIA and, later, the NSA; and his decision to expose the NSA’s data-tracking programs, thereby putting his own freedom and safety at risk.

“They’re going to come for me,” Snowden, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, tells the journalists who helped him disseminate the leaked information. “They’re going to come for all of you too.”

The trailer suggests that while Snowden will certainly have some things to say about government overreach, in certain ways it will also play like a classic spy thriller. The scene in which Snowden smuggles an SD card inside a Rubik’s Cube, for example, would feel very much at home in a Jason Bourne movie.

The real-life Edward Snowden in 2013.

It also suggests that Gordon-Levitt went all in to become Snowden, lowering his voice several octaves to sound more like the famous whistle blower. He’s surrounded by numerous fine actors, including Shailene Woodley, Rhys Ifans, Timothy Olyphant, Melissa Leo, Tom Wilkinson, Zachary Quinto, and Nicolas Cage, who plays a U.S. intelligence official. (Which makes sense, since Cage is the one who knew all about the information that’s hidden on the back of the Declaration of Independence.)

With the movie due in theaters on Sept. 16, it also seems likely that the issues it raises could become talking points in the presidential election. I know, an Oliver Stone movie generating political chatter: Who would have imagined it?