From a 2013 Hong Kong hotel room, whistleblower Edward Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) spills the beans on US snooping.

Forgoing his usual directorial fireworks, Oliver Stone takes a surprisingly restrained approach in this biopic of Snowden – the former spy who told the world about the US government’s illegal mass surveillance practices at home and abroad.

Truth be told, as the film flashes back and forth between Snowden’s revelations, his erstwhile career with the CIA and NSA and his relationship with love of his life, loyal if baffled Lindsay Mills (Shailene Woodley), the going is low-key and a little pedestrian.

However, Gordon-Levitt displays cool intelligence and gets fine support from the likes of Melissa Leo as film-maker Laura Poitras (creator of the Oscar-winning 2014 Snowden documentary Citizenfour), Zachary Quinto and Tom Wilkinson as Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill, the journalists who broke the story, and from Rhys Ifans (particularly good) and Nicolas Cage as two of Snowden’s slippery mentors in the ways of espionage.