Valdosta Daily Times


October 25, 2013

'Fifth Estate' is third-rate entertainment


“Fifth Estate” (Drama: 2 hours, 8 minutes)
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Daniel Brühl and David Thewlis
Director: Bill Condon
Rated: R (Profanity, violence and sensuality)
Movie Review: “Fifth Estate” is an adaptation of Daniel Domscheit-Berg’s book, “Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World’s Most Dangerous Website,” and David Leigh and Luke Harding’s book, “WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy.” It follows real-life events in the life of Julian Assange, who plans to expose corruption and misuses of power via the Internet. Assange, played by Cumberbatch, with major assistance from Daniel Berg (Brühl), exposes secrets of governments, banks, corporations and other entities around the world. This revelation of information comes with a price. Many organizations, especially governments, want Assange neutralized.    
The actual Assange, the WikiLeaks’ founder, is one of the most controversial figures of the decade. Some see him as a heroic activist, while others see him as annoying agitator. While this screenplay by Josh Singer (television’s “The West Wing”) is intriguing, it misses an important key variable. It does have characters worth getting to know.
Cumberbatch and Brühl (“Rush,” 2013) are talented actors. Cumberbatch is especially talented here. The problem is that this screenplay does not make them characters you care about in any manner. For most of the film, that unique spark to care about any character is missing.
Even more, “Fifth Estate” just appears uninteresting at moments. It could have used some action. A chase scene or some other close moment would have increased the intrigue.  
Director Condon has helmed some good films. “Dreamgirls” (2006), “Kinsey” (2004), “Gods and Monsters” (1998) are the noteworthy. Those movies are great dramas, but they provide more than just drama. They each offer some new perspective of the world.
“Fifth Estate” does not compare when considering the actual Assange and Berg are alive and available for interviews. A documentary on these men would have been better perhaps with reenactments intermixed.

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