6.2/10
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114 user 224 critic

The Fifth Estate (2013)

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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.

Director:

Bill Condon

Writers:

Daniel Domscheit-Berg (book), David Leigh (book) | 2 more credits »
2 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Peter Capaldi ... Alan Rusbridger
David Thewlis ... Nick Davies
Anatole Taubman ... Holger Stark
Alexander Beyer ... Marcel Rosenbach
Philip Bretherton ... Bill Keller
Dan Stevens ... Ian Katz
Daniel Brühl ... Daniel Berg
Benedict Cumberbatch ... Julian Assange
Jamie Blackley ... Ziggy
Ludger Pistor ... Supervisor
Alicia Vikander ... Anke Domscheit
Michael Kranz ... Otto
Christin Nichols Christin Nichols ... Otto's Girlfriend
Christoph Franken Christoph Franken ... Game Console Hacker
Ben Rook Ben Rook ... Young Julian
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Storyline

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 DreamWorks Pictures

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

How Wiki Leaks uncovers the secrets of the World See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and some violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook

Country:

USA | India | Belgium

Language:

English | Icelandic | Swahili | Arabic

Release Date:

18 October 2013 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Man Who Sold the World See more »

Filming Locations:

Hoeilaart, Belgium See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$28,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,714,000, 20 October 2013, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$3,254,172, 1 December 2013
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | Datasat | SDDS

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

James McAvoy was cast as Daniel Domscheit-Berg but he dropped out due to scheduling conflicts his stage play, Macbeth. Daniel Brühl replaced him. See more »

Goofs

During the opening credits, you hear Neil Armstrong say the famous line, "One small step for man..." A few seconds later Walter Cronkite reports "President Kennedy died at 1:00 pm..."). The issue is, President Kennedy died (22 NOV 1963) before we landed on the moon (20 JULY 1969). See more »

Quotes

Julian Assange: Man is least himself when he talks with his own person. But if you give him a mask, he will tell you the truth. Two people, and a secret: the beginning of all conspiracies. More people, and, more secrets. But if we could find one moral man, one whistle-blower. Someone willing to expose those secrets, that man can topple the most powerful and most repressive of regimes.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Only Connect: Episode #11.8 (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

Pray (Munchi's Destino Solitario Remix)
Written by Deco Child (as Alexander Lloyd) and Benjamin Dodson
Performed by Deco Child
Courtesy of Ninja Tune
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
The truth may be in there somewhere.
29 October 2013 | by TheSquissSee all my reviews

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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