The Fifth Estate (15)

Directed by Bill Condon
Writers: Daniel Domscheit-Berg (book), David Leigh (book)
Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Daniel Brühl, Peter Capaldi, Carice van Houten
On general release from 11th October 2013

Reviewed by Darren Guy

'The Fifth Estate isn't a documentary, but rather a film intended to provoke thought and entertain'.
Benedict Cumberbatch.

The Fifth Estate is a story about the rise of Wikileaks. The story begins as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch ) and his colleague Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Daniel Bruhl) team up and go underground to expose the dark activities of the privileged and powerful. With virtually no money, they create a platform that allows whistleblowers to anonymously leak covert data, exposing the dark recesses of government secrets and corporate crimes. Soon, they are exposing a catalogue of misdemeanours working in collaboration with the Guardian. But when Assange and Berg gain access to the biggest trove of confidential intelligence documents in U.S. history, they battled with each other and posed a defining question of our time: "What are the costs of keeping secrets in a free society and what are the costs of exposing them?"

The Fifth Estate is a thriller. It is a good intense film, showing the shocking activities of states across the world. Like many thrillers it has a love affair, it has attractive women, the computer geeks are cool, but the Julian Assange character is shown primarily in a negative light, warts and all. He is portrayed as an egotistical control freak. The film, I would argue, makes out it is Assange, due to his own selfishness, and not the US establishment, that is responsible for his demise, with the rape allegations touched on towards the end of the film.

The Wikileaks website asserts that The Fifth Estate is "a work of fiction masquerading as fact," adding that "most of the events depicted never happened," and "it invents or shapes the facts to fit its narrative goals."

It goes on to describe the "falsehoods" in detail, and cites interviews with Cumberbatch to support claims that director Bill Condon had an anti-WikiLeaks agenda.

Despite this, the movie is a good introduction to people who may not know anything about the important Wikileaks exposes. It's a good thriller, but the viewer has to take into account that the film is subjective and based partly on the book written by Assange's former colleague Daniel Domscheit-Berg.

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Comment left by Redskye on 16th October, 2013 at 10:25
Great review, fair and balanced, especially in light of the attacks on WikiLeaks and attempts to extradite Julian Assange to Sweden with the real threat of him then being sent to the US for interrogation.