This will be a tough review to write because no matter how I present it, 50% of you will disagree with me. Is Edward Snowden an irresponsible hacker like Julian Assange with WikiLeaks, or is he a patriotic man who is alarmed to see loss of liberties in democratic nations?

This R-rated documentary is narrated by a woman who had begun receiving encrypted emails offering evidence of illegal covert surveillance programs run by government agencies. They were signed "Citizenfour." Five months later she secretly met with him in Hong Kong, along with reporters Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill of the Guardian. She brought her camera....

Here is what jumped out at me:
  • Snowden's sole thrust is exposure of governmental overkill; it is not to divulge secret operations, endanger intelligence agents or become personally famous.
  • During the early part of the filming (in Hong Kong), he was still anonymous. By the time he gave an example of how monitoring can be done on our phone even when it is in the cradle, we could see that he is careful, not paranoid. He unplugged his phone....
  • Back in the United States, his auto pay for his rent stopped working and his girlfriend had five days to move out; utility vans lined the street where she lived.
  • Under the Patriot Act, our government and others like ours, can harvest all communications: this includes phone calls (both landline and cell), E-mails, texts, Tweets, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., etc... Take a look at the enormous new data storage facility under construction in Utah. (BTW: The UK is even more aggressive than the US.)
  • He is angry that Obama made a point of criticizing our government after 9/11, saying that we should never infringe on private citizen's lives unless they were proven security threats, but now, under Obama, surveillance has increased exponentially.
  • As soon as his name was divulged, the government wanted an investigation: NOT to discover why it is monitoring its citizens, but to ascertain WHO LEAKED SNOWDEN'S STORY. He insists that HE is not the story, abuse of power is.
  • The government has a list of over ONE MILLION American citizens who are currently on the Enemy's List. Snowden was shocked.
  • Journalist Glenn Greenwald is at minimum, bilingual. He seems to be sensitive to the security aspects of the project but is also very much an activist when it comes to exposing government surveillance.
This isn't the most thrilling documentary I have ever seen, but it is endlessly fascinating. Director Laura Poitras brings us a personable and intelligent young man who impressed me as a patriot. Plus he looks like one of my relatives who is a former Marine and, I would like to think, brave enough to do something similar.
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Take a look and see what you think:
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