The Fifth Estate: A rambling biopic about WikiLeaks

Gary Wolcott, atomictown.comOctober 18, 2013 

Film Review The Fifth Estate

This image released by Dreamworks Pictures shows Benedict Cumberbatch as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in a scene from "The Fifth Estate." (AP Photo/Dreamworks Pictures, Frank Connor)


The Fourth Estate is the press. In theory, a free press is a check and balance on government. Some websites -- and particularly those that publish stories main stream media does not -- are dubbed by a newspaper editor in The Fifth Estate as the Fifth Estate.

WikiLeaks at one point was the top dog in the Fifth Estate. Co-founder Julian Assange did something so creative and so important that he started out as a media favorite. As his WikiLeaks website grew in fame and notoriety, Assange became a media megastar. When the mask finally came off, we all learned that Assange is a monster. The man has no conscience. It's all about him, all the time. And it doesn't matter who he hurts or kills.

The Fifth Estate is Assange's story and outlines his partnership with website co-founder Daniel Berg, their rise and fall and who they took down with them.

Benedict Cumberbatch (Kahn in Star Trek: Into Darkness) is Assange. Rush's Daniel Bruhl does Berg. Others in the ensemble cast are Stanley Tucci, Anthony Mackie and Laura Linney as State Department officials and David Thewlis as a British newspaper editor who coins the Fifth Estate term.

Cumberbatch nails Assange and looks and talks so much like the real thing that sometimes you forget he isn't. It's a brilliant piece of work.

Bill Condon (Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn parts 1 and 2) directs, and the script is done by TV writer Josh Singer (West Wing, Fringe). Assange, when you get right down to it, is snobbish, boorish and boring. So is his movie. His script is based on three books, including Berg's. Outside of some fabulous performances, it is also a major-league yawner.

A better, and much more interesting take on Assange and WikiLeaks is a fabulous documentary released this summer by Alex Gibney called We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks.

Director: Bill Condon

Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Daniel Bruhl, David Thewlis, Laura Linney, Stanley Tucci, Anthony Mackie

Mr. Movie rating: 3 stars

Rated R for mature themes, language. It's playing at the Carmike 10, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.

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