The Fifth Estate: movie review
Release date: Friday 11 October
Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Daniel Brühl, Carice van Houten
Director: Bill Condon
What’s it about?
Benedict Cumberbatch steps into the controversial shoes of real-life WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, as his anonymous whistle-blowing website takes off and changes the nature of journalism and international security forever.
What did we think?
With brilliant performances throughout and a surprisingly action-filled script (who knew a movie about the internet could be so exciting?), The Fifth Estate provides a solid and eventful escape – even if it is a tad on the long side.
When it comes to making movies based on real people, delving into the life of a reclusive, arrogant and slightly annoying computer genius wouldn’t be our first choice. Surely a film about a war hero or even a politician would be more exciting?
Well, luckily, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange isn’t your average tech geek – well, at least according to Benedict Cumberbatch’s brilliant portrayal of him in The Fifth Estate. Showcasing his almost chameleon-like acting skills, the Sherlock star is fantastic as the Australian website whiz and, at some points, we had to remind ourselves that it was Benedict under all that peroxide and not Julian himself.
The Fifth Estate follows Julian as he launches the now notorious WikiLeaks website along with his new-found chum Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Daniel Brühl). Based on real-life events which occurred between 2009 and beyond, director Bill Condon does a good job of injecting enough life in what could be a potentially dull film. After all, most of us watch the news – why would we want to see it all again on the big screen?
"This is by no means an entirely factual flick"
Yet, as with any movie based on real-life events, you have to question how genuine the film actually is. Although the movie’s script was based on two ‘insider books’ (WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World's Most Dangerous Website and WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy) the film also has scenes which are entirely fictional. Fair enough, after all, this is Hollywood. However, the thing that slightly worried us was that woven into the far-fetched fictitious scenes were factual, real-life videos.
The overall effect meant the film had a documentary feel about it, meaning viewers could reach the conclusion that the movie is entirely based on truth – something which is ironic, seeing as the whole point of the WikiLeaks website was to uncover facts and read between tangled lines.
If you can put this niggling feeling aside though (and we managed to do this fairly quickly) you’re left with an entertaining film, which showcases Benedict Cumberbatch as the perfect vessel for us to get a closer glimpse into the elusive Julian Assange’s life. The supporting cast are equally as watchable, while the script runs smoothly with a few subtle laughs along the way.
With WikiLeaks condemning the movie, this is by no means an entirely factual flick but if you take it for what it is (which is an entertaining Hollywood thriller), you’re bound to enjoy The Fifth Estate.
Verdict: Compelling and tense, The Fifth Estate is an engaging film which tells the story of one of the most enigmatic men in recent times. Just take it with a pinch of salt…
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