At its core, The Fifth Estate is a rise and fall tale. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch) along with his colleague, Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Daniel Brühl), teamed up to start the revolution. Their quest to expose corporate crimes and government lies, while protecting their sources, launched a small website into what has been called “the most dangerous website in the world.” Soon they found themselves breaking more hard news than any of the world’s largest and most legendary media organizations – combined. What happened, we all watched through the media as thousands of documents were leaked by Bradley Manning to WikiLeaks and ultimately to the public.
Despite what movie-goers and critics (myself included) may think of the film as a whole, one thing is undeniable – the cast is solid. Benedict Cumberbatch does an incredible job at being emotionally cold yet intellectually brilliant – not to mention incredibly self-righteous. Pairing Cumberbatch as Assange with Daniel Brühl as his college and protégé, Domscheit-Berg, was the perfect casting decision. Add in some of the smaller roles that also steal the screen – Peter Capaldi, David Thewlis, Laura Linney, and Stanley Tucci – it’s an incredible roster of talent.
Visually, it’s quite obvious to the avid movie-goer that Bill Condon is the director. A matrix of graphics and visual effects (and a soundtrack on steroids) throughout the film help to create a heightened sense of energy – however many of these scenes seem fairly disconnected… as if just dropped into the film without truly molding them into overall project.
While The Fifth Estateis an entertaining and rather dramatic thriller, it doesn’t bring anything new to the table. Despite Cumberbatch’s solid performance – the other films based on WikiLeaks do a far better job at telling this story. If you’re looking for more here, I’d recommend Alex Gibney’s excellent 2013 documentary We Steal Secrets.
Review By: Emma Loggins