The Fifth Estate (2013)

The Fifth Estate (2013)

2013 | R | 128 Minutes

Drama | Thriller

A look at the relationship between WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and his early supporter and eventual colleague Daniel Domscheit-Berg, and how the website's growth and influence led to an irrepa...

Overall Rating

5 / 10
Verdict: So-So

User Review

  • The Fifth Estate leaks its interesting news headline through an inaccurate screenplay. WikiLeaks and its saga of uncompromising whistleblowing has essentially changed the way journalism is conducted. Exposing corrupt governments, identifying illegal activities within global companies and altering international diplomacy. The freedom of information. Sounds enthralling, right? Wrong. Director Condon is enveloped by the film's self-importance and loses so much focus that it becomes this construction of lies. Based on Berg's 'Inside WikiLeaks' book, this narrative explores the immediate conception and rise of the non-profit organisation and how it dealt with what is now known as "Cablegate", the largest set of confidential documents ever to be released onto the public domain.

    Despite Cumberbatch's riveting leading performance, a dependable supporting ensemble cast and Schliessler's clean cinematography, it's a mess. Condon cannot decide how to tell Assange's story. Instead of detailing Assange's motives and clearly presenting his backstory, which I'm sure would've been fascinating, Condon decides to dabble into self-indulgence by believing its decryption of secrecy to be revelatory and ground-breaking. In doing so, writer Singer has almost imitated the biographical template that 'The Social Network' set as precedent, but with lacklustre results. He tries to explore Assange and Berg as individuals whilst juggling a diplomatic story that spans various years and consistently shifting between hackers, journalists and diplomats in order to ascertain the consequence of WikiLeaks. Alas, all aspects were undeveloped. It's a functional plot and does often feel captivating, particularly the third act, however it feels so over-wrought with meticulous planning that it comes across as clinical.

    The film then concludes with a fictional interview stating that the film we just watched was a dramatisation of something that didn't actually happen and that we should "find the truth ourselves". Hardly motivating. More infuriating actually. It tries to open a discussion, but does so in a painfully full way.