I went into Citizenfour with an understanding that Edward Snowden was not absolutely correct about the government’s supposedly universal ability to hack anything it sets it sights on. Proof to the contrary: the Justice Department’s annoyance with the impenetrability of iMessage. And specific to Snowden’s charges that a number of internet companies provide the government a “back door,” Apple has denied that it does. And Apple has demonstrated time and again that it prioritizes the privacy of its users. Google and Facebook, that’s another matter.
Since I know that not everything Snowden stated was correct, it puts into question the veracity of his entire testimony. Listening to him a bit, you certainly get the sense that he’s not making this stuff up. But Citizenfour sadly fails to address any viewpoint other than Snowden’s. That might be forgiven if the movie had offered a fascinating exploration into the world of national security. But it did not. In fact, there was not a whole lot that Citizenfour revealed that has not already been well publicized.
So we’re left with some good one-on-one time with Edward Snowden as one of the few strengths of this documentary. But even that gets a little draggy. There have been related episodes of the outstanding PBS series Frontline (“The United States of Secrets”, for example) which are far more compelling than this movie. Chalk up another strong disagreement with the Tomatometer. 3/10