If you are not familiar with the WikiLeaks story you’ve most likely been hiding under a rock for the last few years. But just in case that’s what you’ve been up to The Fifth Estate charts the rise of the website, and it’s founder Julian Assange, to mainstream prominence as a conduit for whistleblowers to anonymously leak sensitive information without recrimination. Problems arise in 2010 though, when the website releases sensitive US military documents that reveal information regarding informants and sources in a number of locations worldwide. This action leads to a breakdown in the central relationship with co-founder Daniel Berg which would ultimately lead to a book on which this film is partly based.”
Benedict Cumberbatch is an excellent actor who has the world at his feet and he delivers a fantastic performance here as WikiLeaks founder Assange. The mannerisms and accent are spot on but you can’t judge if it’s a fair portrayal as it is a one sided perspective that doesn’t portray Assange favourably in any way. He is, as far as this production is concerned, a deceitful manipulator who put his own agenda ahead of anyone else’s. This will not please sympathisers but then that’s not the point. Brühl doesn’t really match up to Cumberbatch so he loses here, he’s not crap, he just doesn’t stand out.
The plot follows the two men from website start up, dipping into certain stories as they break on the website, while dropping in and out of the their relationship as it develops. It really doesn’t kick off until it turns a corner into thriller territory with the introduction of Linney and Tucci as US diplomats and their efforts along with CIA operative Mackey to quell the rising tide that is WikiLeaks. The path that it follows doesn’t really work as there’s always a feeling that there is more to the story, from every perspective, and in honesty a more in depth mini series would most likely work better for the material than the two hour running time. That said it is still entertaining. One aspect I found annoying was the repeated imagery used to show the inner workings of WikiLeaks as a large room with many desks and various contributors names on said desks. It’s pointless, adding nothing to the finished product.
Somewhat hit, somewhat miss the subject matter will still attract cinema goers to a decent political thriller that acts as a means for Cumberbatch to show off how god damn talented he is.