There’s an old saying that there’s two sides to every story. You have two opposing arguments that are both trying to make their point as to what the truth really is. I would probably say there are three sides to every story. Your version, their version and the actual truth. You would think the people behind the new film The Fifth Estate would show you at least two sides of the story behind the controversial Wikileak’s founder Julian Assange. Instead you get a one-sided biographical drama that comes across as a poor man’s The Social Network that bores the crowd with its bias towards your right as citizen to know what the privileged and powerful are up to behind closed doors.
The Fifth Estate covers the time in which the peculiar Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch) teamed with co-founder and eventual moral adversary Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Daniel Brühl). The outsider’s plan to take down the powers that be with their start-up website WikiLeaks. I have become a huge fan of Cumberbatch and thought Daniel Brühl stole the show in Rush, but they both drop the ball playing their renegade WikiLeaks counterparts. Cumberbatch plays Assange as a white-haired weirdo full of cardboard arrogance. To say the performance is stiff would be too kind for Cumberbatch. Brühl who shined in Rush brings zero charisma and depth to Domscheit-Berg, who gets in way over his head with the amount of government secrets he’s allowing to the public. I would think Daniel Domscheit-Berg would be a more interesting character than Assange who we already knows so much about.
My biggest problem with The Fifth Estate is it’s just not an exciting film. The Fifth Estate is billed as thriller, but it’s rather than uneventful and boring with its over two-hour running time. I know Assange supporters have denounced this film, but really The Fifth Estate is rather kind to him and actually biased in his favor, in my opinion. You really only see a few casualties from the information released by Assange. Outside the dumb dye job and his narcissistic tendencies, I thought The Fifth Estate treated Assange as a rebel hero for most of the film up until its abrupt ending.
The more interesting story about WikiLeaks is what happened after the release of the classified documents; yet, that part is left to font on-screen at the end of The Fifth Estate. Instead, we are left with a cartoonish portrayal of Assange from Cumberbatch and a bland performance from Brühl. My advice is no matter how you fell about Assange and his actions, skip The Fifth Estate. It’s a rather uneventful film. Overall, I give The Fifth Estate 1.5 out of 4 potatoes.
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