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Benedict Cumberbatch only plays villains
muthink8 November 2013
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.
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The Fifth Estate is only one side of the story
Farzad Eghlima19 September 2013
THE FIFTH ESTATE is based on two books, both written by people who had personal and legal disputes with WikiLeaks.

These are personally biased sources and are now outdated by three years. They tell only one side of the story.

These authors had an interest in portraying Julian Assange as dishonest or manipulative for competitive, personal and legal reasons.

It is hard to imagine how a film which aims to dramatize only their version of events could genuinely aspire to being fair or accurate.

The film does not tell the story Julian Assange or WikiLeaks staff such as Sarah Harrison, Joseph Farrell or Kristinn Hrafnsson would tell. Hopefully, soon, their story too can be told.
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More propaganda in the war on whistleblowers
Christine Geovanis14 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
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.
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Should Be about the Truth
Claudio Carvalho9 August 2016
"The Fifth Estate" is a film made by Dreamworks apparently with the intention of showing Julian Assange as an egocentric villain and seems to manipulate the truth about the role of the Weakleaks. On the contrary, his unfaithful and ambitious partner Daniel Domscheit-Berg a.k.a. Daniel Schmitt is depicted like a rational adviser and the hero, destroying the whistleblower information and data of the Weakleaks to protect the "innocent spies and informers". The film is based on a book written by Daniel Domscheit-Berg; therefore totally partial about the truth without showing the side of Julian Assange. I am not expert in this subject and I have just the common sense of reading and listening to the news about Julian Assange and the Wikileaks. But the film seems to be manipulative and depicting one side of the truth only. Therefore as a documentary, it is worthless; however a thriller, it is engaging and has good performances. My vote is five.

Title (Brazil): "O Quinto Poder" ("O Quinto Poder")
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The truth may be in there somewhere.
TheSquiss29 October 2013
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 Brühl), the explosion of Wikileaks in the public's perception, the shadowy deals with The Guardian and the fall out from countless exposés 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. Brühl follows up his superb performance in Rush with a more downbeat character that he never really sinks his teeth into. Like Brühl, 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 mêlée.

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.

For more reviews from The Squiss, subscribe to my blog and like the Facebook page.
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Not even half as compelling as the actor or the character
harsh00728 October 2013
The Fifth Estate

Plot In his quest to make information free for everyone whistle blower Julian Assange takes on the kingpins of the world by raging a sophisticated ,new age war that threatens to shake the foundations of diplomacy and overthrow established regimes .It tells the story behind the rise and fall of wiki leaks and of its creator ;Julian Assange who some people call a visionary and some a threat to national security .The story revolves around the complex character of Assange and explores his relationship with Daniel Berg ,one of the spokespersons for Wikileaks.

Script The Fifth estate is loosely based on the book "Inside WikiLeaks" by Daniel berg and uses real life examples as key points to narrate the story. The script is to the point, taut and close to reality but it never becomes more than that. It feels like a monotonous narration of the book with no elements of a thriller that it promised to be. If the makers wanted a boring narration of the events that are already available online why did make all the efforts to make a movie and waste a talent like Mr Cumberbatch?

The script is written to explore the association of Assange and Berg but fails to do so and only creates a one dimensional sketch of a Multidimensional relationship. Other parts of the movie are outwardly boring and dimensionless which makes it a Prime time News at max when the viewers expected a thrilling and insightful leak into the life of one of the most Controversial public figures of the 21st Century.

Direction Its Difficult to understand why Bill Condon was chosen as a director for such a controversial public figure (Mr Condon is the director of Twilight :Breaking Dawn 1 and 2, Now you get it ,right?).His lack of control of the story and the essence of Julian Assange's character is visible throughout the 128 minutes , his lack of understanding of the character is the prime reason why this movie fails to hit the right chords.

Performances Benedict Cumberbatch is the reason why you should watch this movie is watchable throughout its runtime.The expression, body language ,non- verbal cues are exactly like Julian Assanges.

Though Assange refused to meet when benedict requested him so that he could understand him better ,citing faults in the script which he disapproved, still he managed to bring such a complex character to life on screen with panache .He is one of the most exemplary actors of this modern world of cinema.

Final Word The only reason why you may want to watch the movie is Benedict Cumberbatch. Except for him the movie is a dull replay of events we already know off, this isn't the movie that Julian Assange deserves. If You are interested to know about Mr Assange I suggest you watch "We Steal Secrets" by Alex Gibney, that is at least honest in delivering what it promises.
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I actually liked it
blanche-230 October 2013
I know I'm in the minority, but I liked "The Fifth Estate." Others will agree with me, though, that the best thing about it is Benedict Cumberbatch, who does brilliant job as Julian Assange.

I come at this film from a slightly different point of view because I still don't know what was so fabulous about "The Social Network." I understand the comparisons due to the similar stories. People seemed to find "The Social Network" incredibly compelling, but I guess it's a generational thing - I just didn't.

I attended this film with a friend who had only a vague knowledge of Wikileaks, and he absolutely loved it and found the "redaction" scenes toward the end of the film tense and suspenseful, as I did.

I realize that some of the film may be fictional, and that Wikileaks is a controversial subject. I can't pretend to know the truth. Cumberbatch portrays Assange as an egomaniacal, protective, arrogant man who refuses to compromise, even when information may hurt people. His right hand, Daniel (Daniel Bruhl) begins to see that Assange's dictatorial attitude and paranoia has gone too far and is actually in the long run going to hurt what could have been an important organization.

What should we know, and when should we know it? Assange wants to release unedited documents onto the World Wide Web. Yet in the beginning of the film, he wants at all costs to protect sources. He seems to forget that later on. That's all in the film, based on two books that we're told are biased.

Still, The Fifth Estate raises some interesting questions and also talks about the challenges we face now with news going out onto the Internet. I think some transparency is healthy; I don't think banks should help customers cheat the U.S. out of $30 billion in taxes; but I don't believe military strategy should be leaked, and I believe that sources should be protected. It seems like so much of what we hear today, from politicians and celebrities and publicists is "spin." And most of us are aware that there's more than they're telling us.

As far as the acting, Laura Linney and Stanley Tucci are marvelous in small roles; Cumberbatch gets excellent support from Bruhl, Alicia Vikander, Jamie Blackley, and the rest of the cast.

In short, Cumberbatch's performance should be seen and appreciated. I think this film has gotten a bad rap. It's certainly not an awful film.
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The Filth Estate: Hollywood
thomas more8 May 2015
I'll just leave to Wikileaks's response the task of identifying all the gross factual mistakes done by the movie (just search for 'wikileaks internal memo fifth estate').

This film is a joke, the objective of tarnishing Assange's image is obvious from beginning to end. It keeps portraying him as a paranoid, egoist, narcissist, sexual maniac, manipulative person, that has no principles whatsoever. Sometimes it even shows him as having some ideals, as a lapse, and then he comes back to his psychopath persona. Really, with so many factual blunders, there's nothing to comment except that it's a poorly written fairy tale.

If you have any interest in this topic, I'd rather spend my time and money on the 'Mediastan' documentary.
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The Confused State
FilmMuscle18 October 2013
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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Cumberbatch shines in a dull and only occasionally interesting account of the Wikileaks story
TheGatsby15 October 2013
You know what they say – you wait for a bus and then two come along at once. After causing a media frenzy in recent years, Julian Assange and his whistleblowing website WikiLeaks have found their way to the big screen this year, twice. Earlier in the year, the documentary 'WikiLeaks: We Steal Secrets' was released to highly positive reviews and a lengthy complaint from Assange himself. Now, we have Bill Condon's dramatic (and according to some, heavily fictionalised) account of the history of the now-infamous website and its founder. Similarly to aforementioned documentary, 'The Fifth Estate' has notably been objected by Assange, who wrote to lead actor Benedict Cumberbatch outlining why he shouldn't take the role or have any part in the film. Despite this, Cumberbatch didn't, instead delivering an excellent and nuanced performance that never feels like an impersonation. On the flipside, Cumberbatch is far-and-away the best thing in the film.

That's not to imply that 'The Fifth Estate' is a bad film by any means, it's just that it's regularly flat and occasionally boring. Many have compared it to David Fincher's 2010 masterpiece 'The Social Network' and the similarities do exist (the foundation of a revolutionary website involving two different people who eventually fall out over said site), but the difference is that this film lacks the spark and most importantly, the compelling dialogue of the latter. When making a film such as this centred on dialogue, it is imperative to make the talk as gripping as possible, but despite trying their best, the conversations here are only sporadically attention-grabbing. Additionally, the sequences set inside the 'cyberspace' feel out-of-place and don't work at all.

The film has good intentions and attempts to raise some interesting questions, as it successfully manages not to show favour to any side of the WikiLeaks argument, even going so as far as questioning the film itself, as we see Cumberbatch's Assange dismissing it in an interview. As well as Cumberbatch, Daniel Brühl is very good as Assange's partner Daniel Domscheit-Berg, while David Thewlis is as usual, a pleasure to watch, here playing the best on screen Guardian journalist since Paddy Considine in 'The Bourne Ultimatum'. Overall though, the film is not as good as its star – it's a plodding and unremarkable account of one of the biggest new stories in recent history.
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The Fifth Estate Review
Brick Movie Reviews19 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
In July 2010, the website WikiLeaks released over 90,000 secret United States military reports about the war going on in Afghanistan. This was one of the largest leaks in United States history, on par with the Watergate scandal during the 1970s under President Nixon. One man was responsible - Julian Assange. The Fifth Estate, partially based on a book written by Assange's former partner, Daniel Berg, titled: Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World's Most Dangerous Website, details the history of WikiLeaks from when Berg and Assange first met back in 2007, to when the 90,000+ documents were released.

For those who don't know, WikiLeaks was a whistleblower organization - a website where confidential documents were posted online, and secrets were revealed. Portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch, Julian Assange took it upon himself to decide that there should be no secrets from the people, and that he exposed confidential files for the greater good. Assange is made out to be a Robin Hood-like person, except instead of stealing the king's riches for the poor, he is exposing secrets the world does not necessarily need to know.

Assange and Berg, played by Daniel Brühl, meet at a computer convention, where the two became friends and Assange let Berg in on his website. Working to release files, Assange and Berg quickly grew WikiLeaks into a household name. Oscar Wilde once said: "Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth." Assange recites this to Berg, stating that WikiLeaks' mission is to protect the identity of whistleblowers. He says that he spent years working on a system that guarantees anonymity for their sources, and Berg believes him. Things, believe it or not, go smoothly, until two of Assange's sources are gunned down, causing a rift between him and Berg, and spelling trouble for WikiLeaks.

The motto of WikiLeaks was: "Courage is Contagious." Sadly, the movie is not contagious. The movie is, in fact, dull and uninvesting. I found myself often losing focus, and even struggling to not walk out of the theater. Even though it is based on actual events, the plot of the movie is boring and uninteresting. Often times, the movie is quite confusing, jumping from one leak, to personal troubles in Berg's life, to another leak, to problems in the United States government, and then back to another leak. It is very difficult to invest in these characters, as there is so much jumping around it is hard to keep track of who is doing what. One of the few interesting aspects of the movie was the fact that the majority of it was focused on Daniel Berg, NOT Julian Assange, which makes sense seeing as the movie was based on the book by Berg, however this results in viewers jumping right into an already established WikiLeaks, instead of seeing it being built from the ground up.

With that being said, Benedict Cumberbatch's portrayal of Julian Assange is mediocre at best. In the film, Cumberbatch's Assange does not come off as a person who is passionate about his cause, which is a problem because it was established that Assange had set out to change the world. Instead, the character comes off as a man who is working at a simple nine-to-five job, uninterested in what he is doing. A positive that comes out of Cumberbatch's performance is that the character development from beginning to end is clear and noticeable, while Daniel Brühl's performance is lackluster - there is zero indication of character development in Berg, even though the story makes it clear that there should be.

Directed by Bill Condon, The Fifth Estate does not do WikiLeaks justice. For a website that made such an impact on the world as it did, it at least deserves a movie that does something similar. Instead we are given a mediocre movie that, in my opinion, is not worth seeing.

Rating: 3 of 10 Check out more of our reviews at: !
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The Berg's Estate More Like It
Have Wisdom Will Travel25 February 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Actually spoiler alert is somewhat pointless as we all know the ongoing "ending" that is Assange's unresolved situation. More relevant: is this film a biased or non-biased portrayal of an individual and his organization.

Verdict: VERY biased. And its true genre: C-grade Comedy

To sum up... This movie is not about

  • epochal issue: the what and how of Wikileaks

  • personality: who is Julian Assange

  • topical: the world of hackers or espionage

  • simple good story telling

This movie TRIES TOO HARD to

  • GOSSIP about an infamous hacker's private, personal habits in petty details only a sibling or wife would know

  • DEMONIZE an already maligned public figure, showing only one-side (the bad of course) interpersonal behaviors and secret selfish motivation only psychics or God would know

  • PRESENT ONE SINGLE PERSON'S testimony as absolute truth - Berg's ego-less, flawless, selfless, 100% altruistic angel (yeah right if they say so)

I totally expected some Assange-bashing, at least to show they aren't biased. Still, this film managed to outdo typical communist despot propaganda for obviousness. More annoying, is the shameless and pathetic attempt at feigning unbiasness. If the creators must hit so hard in one direction, stop pretending then, go preach to the choir. And the sheer laziness. The topic is no fluffy matter so you would think they will at least do some basic research? Nope. Nevermind how the average geeks or hackers really tech-speak, "the personal computer..." gee, the tech visuals are so lame and frilly even non-hackers will laugh.

I feel like I was watching a B-grade 1980 retro buddy drama.

Act 1 = Assange seems like a nice seducer (and a sulky whiner)

Act 2 = Berg is the altruist; Assange is selfish (and a random slut)

Act 3 = Berg is the witch-hunter; Assange is a witch and a ruthless martyr king willing to risk everything for The Cause (but also a perspiring scaredy-cat when people are not watching okay if psychic Berg says so)

Ending = Assange "admits he has vanity too" to an interviewer. Berg admits he has no vanity in mood lighting.

Yawn. Seriously. The only take out for me is Cumberbatch's relatively good tonal impersonation. Hence extra 1 star. Even then, Julian's character is so caricatured and thinned out even Cumberbatch couldn't save it.

This movie is a classic case of how desperate propagandists tend to pick lazy but heavy-hitting writers and high-handed Mr.Obvious directors.
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Not what I expected
mohancraig29 October 2013
As I was driving to the theater I was thinking about what my review might sound like based on just what I'd seen in the trailers, it sounded something like this "all journalist get into the business for the right reasons such as making the world a better place but it usually winds up being more about celebrity status after a while, this movie demonstrates the true initial journalistic urge"... well I was completely wrong and the movie did just the opposite of confirming my suspicions.

The movie starts out by convincing you of the genius and passion of Julian Assange where you feel compelled to see him as a champion for justice but about half way through you start to see him as a real A**hole (this is as the movie portrays him, not my personal view), as it proceeds his character gets worse... almost villainous (not that he surrounded by angels; mind you).

I think it worth a look especially if you were not aware of the WikiLeaks phenomena as it was occurring, I for one found much of it informative and I believe it will raise some awareness about censorship in the media and the plight of genius (if not bordering on madness but isn't that always the way?).
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A Turkey by any measure
tonyscho14 October 2013
Even to the way Assange ties his scarf this film is complete make-believe, and is probably best given a wide berth for those interested in what really happened regarding the leaked US embassy cables.

I've just watched Mediastan, which is a road movie recounting the distribution of the cables across central Asia and the obstacles encountered: geographical, political, security, and media. It's a riveting and at times amusing journey - and an education. For serious insights into how the global media world currently operates, I'd wholeheartedly recommend it.

So, honestly, forget The Fifth Estate, and the rest of the Hollywood hype; Mediastan is the real story of Cablegate and Operation Cable Run.
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Irresponsible and harmful !
Warning: Spoilers
Most of the events depicted never happened, or the people shown were not involved in them. It has real names, real places, and looks like it is covering real events, but it is still a dramatic and cinematic work, and it invents of shapes the facts to fit its narrative goals.

People should not in any way treat this film as an historical account of WikiLeaks, its activities or its personnel. Hopefully, they will be inspired to approach the topic with an open mind, and to support WikiLeaks.

The closing statements of the script contained "falsehoods" & corrections to the dialogue made by WikiLeaks were ignored by those involved with the film.

The sources used for the film, one being a book by Daniel Domscheit- Berg, a man the film claims was Julian Assange's right-hand man, were 'biased sources and are now outdated by three years
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Film has value for supporters but misleading as a historical document
heatherderringer29 June 2014
What is most noteworthy about this new Netflix documentary titled "The Fifth Estate" is not what it shows but what it doesn't – what it leaves out. While it begins showing the webmaster surrounded by his loving family and then eventually his friends and supporters, it never shows him being confronting by his critics or opponents.

When Assage is shown interacting with the public, they are either supporters or don't know him yet because it is still too early in the campaign. As a result of this exclusion of any and all critical voices, this film becomes propaganda. It attempts to humanize the guy but does not provide a full picture.

Finally, it is important to remember that this film's footage is only being shown with the full permission of Assage and his family. Consider what that means in terms of representing all sides of the candidate and his life.

If, however, you are a fan of Cumberbun, you will take pleasure in watching this. If not, you will likely feel frustrated and manipulated.
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Old ways to mislead...
assistec2421 February 2014
Warning: Spoilers
For artistic impression, I will give 4 stars from 10. For general quality, nothing more then 1 of 10. The movie slowly try to drag the watcher from the dimension of world-wide event to the an ugly, biased, egocentric perspective of the two authors of the (anti) WikiLeaks books.

The strategy its old, when the facts disturb one, better to try to argue about his grammar ignoring the content of his phrases...

Not a single word, all the (bad) movie, about some consequences for the authors of the war crimes. Or about the Manning crucification... Or about the meaning of the revolution door who Assange open... Or about the US spooks who manage to involve him on the sex scandal... All the movie its a sad story about the hurting ego of the guys who wrote the books anti-Assange. Nothing more. I will wait for the real movie, one about Wikileaks meaning on the information war, one about the importance of the change who Wikileaks bring to us... Because this movie its just another piece of blunt propaganda. Nothing more.
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What Leaked from The Fifth Estate was Substance
insessionfilm18 October 2013

The Fifth Estate is a sharp looking adaptation of true life events that makes the picture a hot topic of discussion worldwide. Bill Condon is at the helm of this controversial look at Julian Assange and Wikileaks, the organization which infamously leaked top secret documents, videos, and other highly classified information belonging to many of the world's governments starting back in December of '06. Bill Condon does his best to guide us along the way, utilizing a controversial screenplay as well as his cast & crew (notably featuring Benedict Cumberbatch as Assange). Condon has already taken home an award this year for his direction of Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part II. That may sound like a good thing, but actually he was recognized as Worst Director at the Razzies. I can't speak to that because by the time that part of the series had arrived I had already checked out, but I can say that the direction for The Fifth Estate will not net him any Razzie nominations. Condon may not always get the best material to work with, but he manages to do some interesting things here. Not being any more familiar with the material than the average audience member who will go to the theater to see this film, I never felt lost or confused, and that is an accomplishment in direction. Condon uses intertitles very effectively and we truly get a grasp on each location as its own unique aesthetic.

Grade: B


Based on material written in two separate books by Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World's Most Dangerous Website) and David Leigh & Luke Harding (WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy), the screenplay ends up being a near-complete history of Wikileaks. Yes, the Assange character receives the most attention of any character in the script, but it is because he is the founder of Wikileaks as opposed to being a character study on the man himself. The story really reminded me a lot of The Social Network in that we are being shown the foundation of a website in a way that explores not just the "what" but the "why". Both films feature a dictatorial, egotistical genius at their respective helm, and in both cases helps explain why the websites were so successful. The Assange character mentions that it takes two things to make something successful: a good idea and maximum commitment. The script for The Social Network had both, but The Fifth Estate, I would argue, has neither. There are some good ideas here (such as the fantasy/dream-like representation of the size and scope of the organization) but none seem correctly placed or finished. The lack of commitment to one specific area of the script makes this a paper-thin patty with a huge bun–not enough meat, but lots of breading. The amount of time Singer spends on the relationship between Daniel Berg (Daniel Bruhl) and his significant other was inexcusable and poorly thought out as it seemed like something else just pulled from The Social Network to add drama. What Singer delivers on is an average script which can keep mainstream audiences interested. What he does not deliver is anything more than that. For the cultural importance this story holds, that is not enough.

Grade: C-


Benedict Cumberbatch is having one heck of a year, and his portrayal of Julian Assange only adds another notch to his belt. His performance as Assange was as flawless as I can imagine him giving under the circumstances of the screenplay, and credit must be given to him for doing his best to give justice to a character of current historical relevancy. Daniel Bruhl was good as Daniel Berg, but he just didn't get a lot of interesting material to work with. His character in The Edukators was much more interesting, and I really wished I was watching that movie instead of this one for his sake (and mine). Laura Linney and Stanley Tucci played as what felt like two characters pulled straight out of Zero Dark Thirty (they were the middle-aged geopolitical experts pulling strings from Washington) and had to have one of the worst introductory scenes of any major actors I've seen in a film this year. The scene features them both stone-faced and is nearly laughably bad and should be lying on the cutting room floor. Overall though, the performance by our two leads makes for a mostly well-acted film.

Grade: B-


The highlight of the film for me, the score created by Carter Burwell was edgy, slick, and again reminded me of the modern feel of The Social Network. This score is not quite up to par with that one, but it is very imaginative. I felt like I was in a Euro dance club at times (which did happen more than once in the film) and that gave me a real feeling as to where this movie took place. It never felt American to me, and I give credit to Burwell for scoring a film in a way that keeps us at a global perspective.

Grade: A

Overall Grade: C-
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Not so Clear To Understand
james184418 October 2013
I truly went to the theater expecting a quality film but was less than satisfied. Complex scenes. Many difficult exchanges of dialog and an ever so frustrating case of a multitude of much too quick flashes of computer crap. Stick to the true story would help. The confusion was so common that I looked at my wife wishing we had a "DVR" so as to rewind to repeat the scenes. I came to the end of the film just as confused with any sense of appreciation of what I just sat through. There way too many loose ends and questions that left me in deep irritation with the conclusion. I can not recommend this movie. I did come away with a somewhat bit of praise for the lead actors and their attempt to make the best of a lacking film filled with flaws. I sadly can not endorse the film for it's many flaws.
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Quite a good movie with a terrific lead performance
cllrdr-126 September 2013
As you can see from previous reader reviews the Assanginitas are going to be out in force denouncing this dramatization of Julian Assange's rise and fall. Ignore them. Like all "based on a true story" films people ad incidents were compressed for dramatic purposes. But the story overall is quite true. Benedict Cumberbatch captures Assange's preening narcissism and raging paranoia perfectly. He's especially adroit in scenes in which Assange tells lies only to revise them when the truth surfaces. Visually rich and very exciting this is quite different from anything Bill Condon has done before. This is an Alan J. Pakula style dram brought up to date with exceptionally flashy graphics and a breathless pace matching it's leading character's seemingly unstoppable drive. Edward Snowden, who was in contact with Assange at some point, is not mentioned. But Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning certainly is. I hope Condon has plans form making a Manning film in the future, cause he's definitely the director for it.
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Somewhat subtle and clever but ultimately based on a false narrative
ufster ufster27 December 2015
... which renders it's use as a "based on real life events" movie well, useless. Only redeeming quality is Cumberbatch's exquisite performance. Main problem I have with it is that the script seems to confuse the personas of Assange and Berg. The real life Berg is a mediocre person with a mediocre skill set and a mediocre personality who desires to mount to more than his capabilities will allow thus becomes disgruntled and disillusioned with Wikileaks and Assange once he realizes that neither the organization nor its founder will yield their ideals to provide him with this opportunity.

One quite funny example of this is when the movie attempts to twist his blatant exaggeration of his role and self publicizing in the Wired interview as evidence of Assange's alleged distrust of people around him. As a result, in a fit of jealous rage he destroys/steals valuable leaks that whistle-blowers risked their lives to provide to the organization, tries to build his own *leaks where he would be in charge, blackmails Wikileaks with the fate of these stolen leaks and tries to financially benefit from his "defector" status by publishing third rate books.

If any of you reading this review require hand holding to be made aware of the sheer hypocrisy of creating a website for leaks while simultaneously destroying/stealing leaks provided to another, I pity you. There is a story to be told here about a man, his ego and his thirst for celebrity, importance and power who ends up making a giant mess. That man, however isn't Assange.
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"The Fifth Estate" is an important, if not exciting film.
Dave McClain16 December 2015
In Medieval Europe, the First Estate was the clergy, The Second Estate was the nobility and The Third Estate were the commoners – basically, what we would call today "the 99%". The term The Fourth Estate emerged later as a designation for a group of people who aren't large in numbers, but are great in influence – usually the news media. This leads us to the title of the 2013 film "The Fifth Estate" (R, 2:08). What if there were another group of people, further outside the older classes of society – a group that was an offshoot of The Fourth Estate, smaller in size, but greater in influence? In this, The Information Age, the internet has created such a group, a group that plays a role similar to The Fourth Estate, but does it completely independently and with no accountability. It's a group that is influential enough, and different enough from the established media, that a new name seems appropriate to describe this group. This is The Fifth Estate, and there is no better example of The Fifth Estate than the WikiLeaks website, publisher of documents leaked to the site by people within corporations, military and government organizations who feel that they have a responsibility to expose corruption, questionable practices, lies and policies and practices with which the leaker simply disagrees. Calling a movie about WikiLeaks "The Fifth Estate" begs the question: Can people who work with such an organization really be called journalists, are they lawbreakers, or are they something new and different, something that defies definition? It's an important question and it's what this film asks its audience.

WikiLeaks went online in 2007 and was the creation of one man, Australian computer hacker – turned activist and publisher Julian Assange. Benedict Cumberbatch does a remarkable job portraying the enigma that is Assange. In Cumberbatch's hands, Assange is a brilliant visionary… as well as arrogant, rude, manipulative, paranoid, self-righteous and definitely lacking in the social skills. He makes Apple Computers co-founder Steve Jobs look like a puppy dog. Daniel Bruehl plays Daniel Berg, a computer genius who hitches his wagon to Assange's rising star. Berg believes in Assange's goal of revealing the truth about powerful organizations, especially those corrupt, scandalous, embarrassing, or just uncomfortable truths which Assange, Berg and a small group of friends believe can make a difference if exposed to the light of day. Over time, however, Berg comes to see Assange for the man he really is and grows increasingly upset over what he sees as Assange's recklessness in publishing hundreds of thousands of leaked U.S. military and State Department documents and communications without redacting names and other information that, if made public, could endanger the lives of all kinds of people all over the world. That's where Laura Linney, Stanley Tucci and Anthony Mackey come in, as government officials trying to limit the damage from WikiLeaks releasing the biggest treasure trove of documents the website (or any organization) has received from a single source. That source was former Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning, eventually convicted of violating the Espionage Act and other crimes and sentenced to 35 years in prison (and has since assumed the identity Chelsea Manning).

This should be seen as an important movie, regardless of one's opinion of the people and events portrayed. First off, WikiLeaks (along with the connections established among people around the world on social media websites) helped lead to the Arab Spring and other significant political changes in many different countries over the few years following Manning's actions. Secondly, whether you agree or disagree with Assange's approach to journalism (or whether you even consider him a journalist at all), this movie raises important questions that existed before the world even heard of Julian Assange, will exist into the foreseeable future, and may never go away. When does the freedom of the press enshrined in the U.S. Constitution conflict with the basic human rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness promised in the Declaration of Independence? Is there any way to hold people who post news on the internet accountable without violating our most treasured freedoms? Where is the line between whistle-blower and traitor – and who decides where to draw that line? This film suggests the importance of asking all these questions and more without coming right out and asking them. This film also avoids suggesting that there are any easy answers. As entertainment, many will find "The Fifth Estate" a bit dry, a bit long or both. The director does his best to keep the film engaging by getting the best out of his talented cast, editing and scoring the film to create tension and using creative settings and camera work to represent certain concepts and events in the story. However, the real strength of this film is in its educational value and its ability to get the audience to think about some significant issues that face our country and our world - right now, today - and aren't going away any time soon. At the end of the day, isn't that one of the things that we want (and really need) movies to do – at least some of the time? That is a question that I think this film does answer and that answer is a resounding "yes"! For the significance of this film, its execution and its overall entertainment value, I give "The Fifth Estate" a "B".
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A good watch for those who wanna know more about wikileaks
Aarti Rana1 September 2014
This movie had a gripping start and to those who had a background about wiki leaks and Julian Assange, the movie got into the depths of information in an entertaining way which otherwise would have been very boring to just read. It was nothing like a documentary but was towards Daniel shown in a better light. The whole movie was like a chase but lost the plot to confusion and chaos in between. Since the length was pretty long it was slight boring. The only thing I didn't like was the sudden abrupt end where I thought it could have been a little more elaborated. Benedict Cumberbatch has done an extraordinary job of playing Julian Assange's character and completely justifying his role. I was excited to see him in a new avatar other than Sherlock Holmes which made me look forward to watching this movie. All in all this movie is a good watch for those who are interested to know in depth about Julian Assange and Wikileaks in a non-documentary way!
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Ambiguous Portrayal of the Celebrate Whistleblower
l_rawjalaurence10 June 2014
THE FIFTH ESTATE is certainly an intriguing piece of work - not least for the fact that it hasn't made up its mind about how view the central character. Played with narcissistic grace by Benedict Cumberbatch - in one of his best film roles to days - Julian Assange comes across as both obsessive and righteous, impossible to live with yet possessed of firm convictions, haunted by his past yet dedicated to improving the future. His relationship with Daniel Berg (Daniel Bruhl) is a combustible one; Assange doesn't want his partner around yet can't seem to operate without him. Eventually the two of them break up for good, and Assange is quite literally hoist by his own hubristic petard. Structurally speaking. Bill Condon's film is particularly flashy - full of rapid cuts and awkward zooms. Sometimes it becomes rather irritating in its attempt to stress the central theme; despite Assange's assertions to the contrary, Wikileaks was not a worldwide organization but a two-person operation. The repeated shots of office desks, peopled by clones of Assange, emphasize the protagonist's ambitious, if somewhat unrealistic, dreams. Eventually the flashiness gets in the way of the film's resolution, especially at the end, when the shots of burning books and campfires seem especially unnecessary, and Nick Davies' (David Thewlis') concluding speech is nothing short of tendentious. Nonetheless THE FIFTH ESTATE remains perversely watchable, if only to witness the extreme yet ineffectual reactions of US government officials (played by Stanley Tucci and Laura Linney), once the extent of the leaks becomes evident.
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