A dramatic thriller based on real events that reveals the quest to expose the deceptions and corruptions of power that turned an Internet upstart into the 21st century's most fiercely debated organization.
The story begins as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his colleague Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Daniel Brühl) team up to become underground watchdogs of the privileged and powerful. On a shoestring, they create a platform that allows whistle-blowers to anonymously leak covert data, shining a light on the dark recesses of government secrets and corporate crimes. Soon, they are breaking more hard news than the world's most legendary media organizations combined. But when Assange and Berg gain access to the biggest trove of confidential intelligence documents in U.S. history, they battle each other and a defining question of our time: what are the costs of keeping secrets in a free society-and what are the costs of exposing them? Written by
The Fifth Estate is a film that's bound to attract a considerable amount of controversy and end up with a fairly divisive crowd, and that's basically why you're witnessing the overwhelming negative reception from critics. Ultimately, bias will sweep in and largely contribute to your final thoughts on the film, essentially depending on what side you're on. Admittedly, this picture paints a villainous image for Julian Assange, especially as the plot progresses, and a plethora of reviewers apparently took issue with that, including Mr. Julian Assange himself. Well, there are also those critics that post their extremely vague negative responses to the film that don't exactly address a particular fault within the movie's content and definitely produce a sense of shadiness in terms of what exactly drove them so crazy over its material.
Anyways, let's focus on my reaction to the feature in general with as much honesty as possible. I won't lecture you on how much you should hate the NSA and the government's surveillance activities nor should I protest such anarchists' decisions. I'll judge the film as it should be judged, but of course, the level of its accuracy should absolutely be considered. Concentrating on the strengths at first, right off the bat, it's quite obvious just how exceptional the lead performances from Benedict Cumberbatch and Daniel Bruhl are, and as usual, Cumberbatch carries that impressive volume of charisma with him where you simply can't take your eyes off his mannerisms and speech (I believe I already noted this in my Star Trek review); in short, his portrayal of Julian Assange is terrifically veracious. Daniel Bruhl, coming off of his memorable performance in Rush, makes his mark yet again, playing a foil to Julian in a way. Furthermore, The Fifth Estate unquestionably works as a full-fledged thriller with the several twists and turns throughout. The story, itself, is compelling and though it's abundantly filled with journalistic terminology and complicated concepts, you're forced to dedicate twice the attention to the screen.
On that note, The Fifth Estate suffers from a highly noticeable and detrimental flaw: its messy execution. What fundamentally follows persistently throughout the narrative are perplexing scenes that leave the audience scratching their head- and not in a good way in case you're asking. The movie's editing style and script will doubtlessly leave you confused in numerous instances. While you're attempting to understand how exactly a specific action or trade works, the film casts you into another situation that leaves you baffled yet again, and this really stems from- as previously mentioned- its wide array of terminology and the fast pace with which it irresponsibly deals with its explanation to the moviegoers. This is precisely why The Social Network shone in its brilliance: it was perfectly comprehensible and continued with remarkable execution- the pure opposite of The Fifth Estate. By the time the story comes to a conclusion, you will have likely properly sorted the film's ideas but to have a thriller work is to avoid placing your interested crowd into a muddled and jumbled predicament as it lessens the satisfaction and surprise that comes with a thrilling experience.
At the end of the day, The Fifth Estate is great in that it sparks a mixed reaction and requires both extreme sides of the table to continuously argue over the rightfulness or criminality of Wikileaks' existence and the path that Julian Assange took to see it to success. There are too many factors to just definitively point out if you should or shouldn't view it. However, if you're not one for complicated, fast- paced political thrillers, this probably won't be an enjoyable time at the movies. Otherwise, there might be something here that'll get you thinking about the whole debacle of our privacy vs. the so-called "evil government."
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