The Fifth Estate – Movie Review

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the fifth estate

The Fifth Estate

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Daniel Brühl, Anthony Mackie, David Thewlis, Alicia Vikander, Peter Capaldi, Carice van Houten, Dan Stevens, Stanley Tucci, Laura Linney

Directed by: Bill Condon

Rated: R
Run Time: 128 mins
Genre: Drama/ Biography
3.5 out of 5 Frames

Another film opening this week is one that has been in the headlines over the past few years and based on a book by one of the people portrayed in the film. The man which the film is about, Julian Assange, wasn’t too keen that a film was being made about him and even wrote an email to the actor who plays him, Benedict Cumberbatch about the role expressing his displeasure. Aside from behind the scenes drama, how does the film fare in terms of entertainment? Read on to find out.

If you ever heard of a little website called Wikileaks mentioned in the news, chances are you have heard of its creator Julian Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch). Picking up the story in 2007 in Berlin, Germany, Assange teamed up with a young tech geek/hacker type, named Daniel Berg (Daniel Brühl) to take Wikileaks to a new level. Assange has a past of hacking crimes yet has turned humanitarian by using his hacking past to expose those who cause crimes against humanity. Wikileaks is a platform where whistleblowers can, leak data, sources, exposing documents, governments and corporate crimes under a veil of anonymity.

In theory, this works in favor of Assange, his volunteers and their sources but when a “leak” so huge against the American government is exposed, how far will Assange go to defend his actions when he puts so many lives at risk all in the name of justice?

Not since the Pentagon Papers were released, has there been such a groundbreaking journalistic event for the media to partake in. Where the argument lies, is 1.) Blogging a form of journalism? And 2). With this amount of potential damaging information, what should be released and what gets redacted? The problem with this film isn’t that it is a compelling story or that the protagonist/antagonist dynamic is lacking, but the artistic vision of the story seems a little lackluster. Several scenes of the film try to explain the complexities of the mindset of Assange and Berg with intercuts of “visualizations” of the inner workings of Wikileaks which seem out of place. The amount of information flying back and forth is fascinating, and if they focused more on the subjects of Assange’s “leaks” would have made for a more exciting story. It was as if Director Bill Condon was trying too hard to get the “Twilight” crowd to have a “Matrix” dreamscape experience to explain the complicated character that is Julian Assange. You be the judge when it opens in theaters nationwide starting Friday October 18, 2013.

Things to Watch For: Lots of information flying back & forth.

Who Should See this Movie: Fans of Benedict Cumberbatch, Daniel Brühl, Anthony Mackie, David Thewlis, Alicia Vikander, Peter Capaldi, Carice van Houten, Dan Stevens, Stanley Tucci, Laura Linney

About Lisa Minzey

Lisa Minzey is Editor in Chief of The Reel She has written for Phoenix Film Foundation, an online contributor for and is known to write a screenplay or 12. She's worked in Hollywood in various forms, but her first love is writing. She currently resides in Los Angeles.

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