The Fifth Estate Review

I was able to attend an advanced screening of The Fifth Estate. It is based on the books: Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange and the World's Most Dangerous Website, which was written by Daniel Domscheit-Berg, and  WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy. Overall, I enjoyed the movie, but it did have its problems.

I've been following the Wikileaks story ever since the news first came out of them leaking the video of the two Reuters reporters being fired upon by an Apache helicopter. Ever since then, I've been keeping up with the happenings around Wikileaks. 

In the movie, we see a sort of melodramatic, one-sided version of the story. The focus was more on Daniel Berg's internal struggles, rather than Assange's. I sort of wish they went more into Assange as a character, he felt walled off. Although, Benedict Cumberbatch, who played Julian Assange, still managed to give depth to the character.

The main characters, Daniel Berg and Julian Assange, had fairly decent dialogue, but there were many times where the dialogue felt simplistic, lacking depth. Specifically with the minor characters. Assange occasionally degraded into simple statements about freedom of information that seemed a bit muddled.

It's really Cumberbatch who saved the script, giving it a bit more punch. Despite some weak dialogue, he managed to cover it up by playing the character with superficial charm. Cumberbatch seems to be very good at playing fringe types. He embodies Assange with a sense of idealism that makes you want to root for him.

Daniel Berg, play by Daniel Brühl, also does a good job of pulling the script above mediocrity. Throughout the movie you feel for Berg as he fights between revealing the truth and protecting the innocent informants whose names are within the leaks. He plays the character with such conviction over the choices he has to make, it is really the strength of the movie's dilemma. 

Being that I don't know all of the behind the scenes happenings of the Wikileaks story, I felt the movie made it tense and interesting. The overall structure of the movie I felt was good, again, it was some of the dialogue that weighed it down.  

The one aspect of the movie I felt really didn't work was how they represented the Wikileaks "headquarters" as a barren wasteland filled with empty desks. This silly imagery detracted from the film's power. Trying to enhance some of the scenes, where instead, it bogged them down. I felt that without that in the film, it would have been a bit more powerful.

The film's music is decent, with some generic sounding tracks, mixed with interesting techno sounds.  I listen to most new soundtracks that come out and this one didn't seem to pull my attention.

Overall, this movie will likely give you a one-sided history of the Wikileaks story, but it won't give you both. I think the most interesting side is from Assange's perspective, yet we see the movie mainly from Daniel Berg's. Despite some bad creative choices, the movie is a solid piece of entertainment that is on the verge of being a better movie, but in the end I feel it falls sort of being great. And with a story so interesting, modern, and in the public mind, I feel it didn't live up to its potential. 

That being said, I still recommend seeing the movie. If just to learn a little bit about the Wikileaks story and seeing Benedict Cumberbatch be an impressive actor.

Score: 7/10