North Texas Daily

Review: “The Fifth Estate”

Review: “The Fifth Estate”

Review: “The Fifth Estate”
October 17
18:14 2013

Cole Clay / Intern Writer

Rating: 4 / 5

In today’s social and political climate our right to secrecy has certainly become limited, with the prominence of social media and the recent NSA scandal. Wikileaks started an uprising around the world that has encouraged whistle blowers to come forward (anonymously) and bring down “corrupt” corporations and governments since its inception in 2006. This group of online activists in consequence has sparked loads of controversy the past few years. Simply because of one question, does Wikileaks help more people than they hurt?

Naturally, this is a fitting topic to make a film about and it gives director Bill Condon the chance to get his feet wet again and do something a little more interesting than the two Twilight films that have recently occupied his time. He creates a rather visceral film that appeals not only to the mainstream, but also to viewers who prefer films that are more on the fringe.

“The Fifth Estate” is a thriller that tackles the tumultuous rise of Julian Assange, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, (“Star Trek:Into Darkness”) & Daniel Domscheit-Berg, played by Daniel Bruhl (”Rush”) as the duo find themselves on morally opposite sides of creating the most controversial website of the 21st century.

At first glance, the film appears to be basically just a fluff piece about how much Wikileaks has helped the world and what great a man Assange appears to be, however the film is much more than that. The film exposes the moral and legal implications of starting the war on secrecy.

Condon handles the material very well by taking a story that isn’t inherently visual and giving it some panache. “The Fifth Estate” is forthright with what it is trying to accomplish in terms of tone, which is fun, gripping and unexpectedly self-referential.

Cumberbatch’s performance is cautious to the fact that we as an audience aren’t supposed to be for or against Assange. He teeters on the edge of both of these sensibilities without coming across as if he is doing an out right impression of the iconic Australian.

Bruhl does a fine job capturing the uneven ethical decisions of Domscheit-Berg. The story is told through his perspective and although the truth might be skewed in some instances, it makes for a better film to tell the less radical side of the story. Although Cumberbatch is marvelous, it is Bruhl who carries the film.

Jordan Singer (“The West Wing”) penned the script, which has some very good lines of dialogue and entrancing scenes. However, he jumbles it a bit towards the last half of film by writing in two White House bureaucrats (Laura Linney, Stanley Tucci) that belong on a television procedural.

“The Fifth Estate” is a thought provoking and visual stimulating piece of filmmaking. Match that with nuanced acting by the two leading actors and you have a stimulating thriller that is well worth the ticket price.

“The Fifth Estate” opens October 18th.

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