The Fifth Estate


Action / Biography / Drama / Thriller


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January 12, 2014 at 11:58 AM



Alicia Vikander as Anke Domscheit
Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange
Anthony Mackie as Sam Coulson
Dan Stevens as Ian Katz
720p 1080p
922.03 MB
23.976 fps
2hr 8 min
P/S 10 / 27
1.95 GB
23.976 fps
2hr 8 min
P/S 1 / 13

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Christine Geovanis 1 / 10

More propaganda in the war on whistleblowers

I've written about why this is ghastly dreck at much greater length on CounterPunch, but I'll summarize here: If Walt Disney were alive today, the notorious right-winger would be delighted at the latest volley his namesake company has lobbed in the U.S. war on whistleblowers.

Wikileaks has written at some length about the raging factual inaccuracies in this 'docudrama', but the flick has more than Wikileaks in its sights. The film's broad themes undergird the same sorts of distortions that have been used to dirty up whistleblowers and information freedom advocates who include Stratfor whistleblower Jeremy Hammond, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowdon, the late, great tech innovator and DemandProgress founder Aaron Swartz, and CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou. Namely: uncensored primary source material is bad, because dammit, how the heck can we control the information stream and the spin in the face of those nasty primary source materials?

Among its fantasy characters, TFE includes the racist stereotype of the 'good Arab' asset of State Department hacks -- a particularly appalling fiction that reinforces the wholly bogus notion that Wikileaks' release of State Department cables 'hurt our allies.' No, it didn't. To date, the U.S. government has utterly failed to document a single instance of 'harm' coming to a single one of its on-the-ground thugs, informants, collaborators or spies.

I saw this at a free screening hosted by the Chicago ACLU. Good thing their development director opened the event by announcing that they hadn't yet seen the flick and the event should by no means be construed as an endorsement of the film. Save your dough -- or better yet, check out Wikileaks' new documentary, Mediastan, which rather nicely documents the mainstream media's congenital unwillingness to speak truth to power.

Reviewed by muthink 6 / 10

Benedict Cumberbatch only plays villains

As I walked into the theater with my wife, she asked me again what this film was about. I said, its about Wikileaks. I told her about Assange and the mission of Wikileaks. I had already had my own formed opinions about Assange, but refrained from sharing it with her. I was curious to see what her reaction was and what her opinion of Wikileaks and Assange was after the film.

The film was not bad. It was sort of an attempt to make a Facebook style film about Wikileaks and although it nowhere measured up to the quality of "Social Network." Its attempt was commendable and all-in-all, it was not a waste of the 18 Euros we spent to see it.

However, what really bothered me throughout the entire film was Cumberbatch's portrayal of Assange. I could see he was trying very hard to mimic Assange to the best of his ability, but I either don't think he had it in him or he was purposely playing Assange a lot crazier than he appears in real life. I have seen lots of interviews with Assange, who in my mind, comes across a bit like a mixture between a politician and professor. Cumberbatch, on the other hand, came across as a sort of eccentric nut.

The next thing that bothered me is where the film decided to stop. Basically, it skimmed over the current scandals, making Assange sound like more of nut than Cumberbatch's portrayal. The last five minutes especially sunk into me the feeling that the film unfairly portrayed Assange.

And my suspicions were confirmed. I asked my wife what her opinion of Assange was as a good or bad guy, and she seemed to indicate she was leaning towards bad. The last few minutes of the film, basically sunk that message in loud and clear.

My conclusion is, that, this film is a good example of the new way of being critical. Pretend to be fair and at the last minute, throw up a bunch of negative facts.

I believe that combining the positive portrayal of the U.S. state department with the crazy portrayal of Assange, was neither fair nor accurate. History will probably judge this film as just another propaganda piece of the corrupt powers that be.

If I were to write this film, I think it would have been much more interesting to concentrate on the incidents of human rights abuses rather than on the Assange himself. It would have also had the positive effect of encouraging, rather than discouraging whistle-blowers. This film does not seem to inspire anything.

Assange was right about the film.

Reviewed by TheSquiss 5 / 10

The truth may be in there somewhere.

I tend not to read reviews until after I've watched a film lest they sway my opinion, but it wasn't hard to miss the nonchalance (that veers towards damnation) with which The Fifth Estate has been received. Nor that it plays just once per day, at 9pm, at my local Cineworld compared to five screenings per day for Captain Phillips, eight for Ender's Game and fourteen for Thor: The Dark World.

But Bill Condon's (Gods and Monsters, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn) film about Wikileaks founder and hero/pariah (delete according to your political stance) Julian Assange really isn't that bad. Take that as you will.

Not really a biopic, The Fifth Estate takes a similar approach to Assange as The Social Network did with Mark Zuckerberg, looking more at the product of the man than the man himself. It consumes 8 minutes more of your time than The Social Network, feels twice as long, is far more arduous and will require just a single viewing, compared to repeat visits for the Facebook flick.

Trudging through the meeting of the ultimate whistleblower Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Daniel Berg (Daniel Bruhl), the explosion of Wikileaks in the public's perception, the shadowy deals with The Guardian and the fall out from countless exposes about underhand dealings from governments and corporations, The Fifth Estate spews out a huge amount of information but never quite manages to get down to the gritty truth.

It feels cluttered and more of a lecture than a movie and I'm not sure I know a great deal more about Assange now than I did yesterday. Too much has been shoehorned into its 128 minute running time but it still only glances over some of the highest profile matters surrounding Assange: the Bradley/Chelsea Manning revelations and the sexual misconduct allegation against Assange that have led to his exile in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Cumberbatch succeeds admirably in portraying Assange as an obsessive with a serious case of egotism and a lack of social graces or personal care. It's a fine performance and will be a revelation to those who know Cumberbatch only from BBC's Sherlock or Star Trek Into Darkness. He is eminently watchable and succeeds in making an unpleasant man fascinating to watch. Assange wrote an open letter to Cumberbatch hoping to dissuade him from portraying him on film in The Fifth Estate, a "wretched" film, a work of fiction "based on a deceitful book", and one imagines that, should a copy of the film reach him inside his 'prison' he'll be dismayed by the way he is portrayed. Perhaps he'll be magnanimous to concede that, nevertheless, it is a fine performance from Cumberbatch.

Many of the other prominent actors don't fare quite as well. Bruhl follows up his superb performance in Rush with a more downbeat character that he never really sinks his teeth into. Like Bruhl, Alicia Vikander, Berg's love interest and just one of many thorns in Assange's side, has little to play with and her performance is smothered by the presence of Assange.

Bucking the trend, David Thewlis gives a pastiche of a Guardian journalist, more given to flouncing noisily into meetings and huffing in exasperation than acting. But Thewlis' performance is evened out by able turns from the new Doctor Who, Peter Capaldi, Laura Linney and Stanley Tucci, though with so many characters vying for screen time and Condon battling to squeeze in as much information as possible alongside some outdated 80s techniques (text across faces, anyone?), they, too are lost in the melee.

The Fifth Estate isn't a great film and it may not be terribly truthful (the jury's still out on that one) but, despite it's flaws, I still enjoyed it. Once! And maybe truthful representations aren't important. As Cumberbatch wrote in his response to Assange, "…the film should provoke debate and not consensus."

And in that, at least, The Fifth Estate succeeds admirably.

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