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The Fifth Estate

The Fifth Estate: Overcomplicated Take on the Story Behind Wikileaks

  • Benedict CumberbatchCarice van Houten...
  • 3DDrama...
  • Bill Condon
reviewed by
Marija Loncarevic
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The Fifth Estate: Overcomplicated Take on the Story Behind Wikileaks

Often described as a visionary and an information-advocate for the ages, Julian Assange – the editor-in-chief and the man behind the controversial, whistleblower website Wikileaks – is a name that continues to make headlines around the world. Unfortunately, however, The Fifth Estate, falls short of expectations. 

The film focuses on the story of Daniel Berg (Daniel Bruhl); a young idealist and computer-wiz who gets drawn into the world of secrecy of Julian Assange (Cumberbatch). Daniel is instantly charmed by the legendary hacker’s plans of creating a website where tips exposing various corporate corruptions and top-secret government secrets, can be published; all the while safeguarding the identity of its informers.

Believing that Assange’s mission is for the greater good, Daniel joins the cause and together they bring more people on board. However, their risky mission of exposing the truth draws the attention of various U.S government specialists – which include Sarah Shaw (Linney) and Jim Boswell (Tucci) – as well as the State Department and the White House.

With the help of several well-established and respected newspapers, including The New York Times, The Guardian and Spiegel, Wikileaks’ popularity grows. Meanwhile, Daniel begins to notice that Assange’s radical views are beginning to take a drastic turn and everything they worked so hard for begins to take on a whole other meaning.

The Fifth Estate’s saving grace lies with Cumberbatch’s mesmerizing performance; icy cool, calm and collected, the British actor tackles Assange’s mannerisms with precision; from talking and walking, to very specific facial gestures. Unfortunately, though, Assange is presented as a rather secondary character. As the main character, Bruhl isn’t as engaging as his cast-mate, while the supporting cast, which includes Linney and Tucci, aren’t developed enough to make an impact.

The biggest flaw of the film is within the story itself. The Fifth Estate draws its material from two non-fiction books, which sets an impossible challenge for screenwriter, Josh Stinger, who understandably fails to link the two stories into one. Jumping from one plot line to another, the storyline is incredibly difficult to keep up with.

Overcomplicated and occasionally incoherrent, The Fifth Estate fails to bring a substance and legitimacy to the story behind one of the most talked-about men in the world.

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We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks (2013)

360 Tip

It has been reported that Assange contacted Cumberbatch personally to ask him to not to participate in the film. Evidently he ignored him.

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