Film Review – The Fifth Estate (2013)

The Fifth Estate - feature

Title – The Fifth Estate (2013)

Director – Bill Condon (Dreamgirls)

Cast – Benedict Cumberbatch, Daniel Bruhl, David Thewlis, Stanley Tucci, Laura Linney, Anthony Mackie, Carice Van Houten

Plot – Based on real life accounts of the beginnings of Wikileaks world domination and the key partnership between the organisations founder Julian Assange (Cumberbatch) and Daniel Berg (Bruhl) that changes when the realisation of what power they have at their fingertips hits them and the lines between what is right and what is wrong are blurred.

“Courage is contagious”

Review by Eddie on 2/04/2014

Once every year there is a film many are expecting much from and hype around it is high, the results however are much different to the pre-conceived ideas and the film flops in all areas from critical, audience and box office performance – last year this film was famed director Bill Condon’s The Fifth Estate. Universally panned upon release and losing money at the box office like it was fashionable you’d be justified in expecting a truly horrendous film experience from this Julian Assange tale but also expect like I did to be pleasantly surprised.

No doubt influenced by both the success and structure of the much better Facebook tale The Social Network, Fifth Estate has no time for background and chooses to focus on the periods of Assange’s life and setting up of Wikileaks around the 2008 period that culminated in the worldwide release of United States documents on the Afghanistan war in 2011. With the film choosing this as it’s focal point it doesn’t give the film a whole lot of heart but it does have a very interesting central relationship between its very own Zukerberg and Saverin in the form of Julian Assange and Daniel Berg played by fine actors Benedict Cumberbatch and the ever improving Daniel Bruhl.

British star Benedict Cumberbatch has quickly and rightfully become a sensation in the last few years and his casting as Australian born Assanage drew much interest and fanfare upon announcement. When the film hit screens however it seemed many turned upon his performance which watching now seems unfair. Cumberbatch inhabits Assanage’s public persona perfectly (for example of this watch the final scenes) and even pulls off being Australian better than most Streep like “a dingo ate my baby” performances. Cumberbatch is ably supported by Bruhl who despite not being given a whole raft of emotions to play with garners audience sympathy and is relatable beyond most of the other players in the true life tale. Other supports are wasted with only David Thewlis making much of a mark with his role as Guardian journalist Nick Davies.

With such good central turns one must think all critical mauling’s the film received has to be down to odd direction by Condon who perhaps after working on Twilight for all those years suffered some filmmaking bad habits. His direction is at times amateurish with a seeming aim to be a Bourne like shaky camera procedure that just doesn’t fit the story, although some nightmarish like scenes involving rooms full of computers and Assange clones shows that at times the film is strikingly haunting. Other weaker elements of the film include some misplaced editing and a horrible intrusive score by the usually reliable Carter Burwell.

An interesting look into the time of Wikileaks world dominance and the moral conundrums it had to reveal the truth, The Fifth Estate is a very interesting look into that time and the relationship between two gifted men and their important relationship. Don’t go in expecting to come out knowing Assange any better but if you go with the story presented there is undoubtedly enough to keep you watching despite some seriously underwhelming production feats.

3 and a half early dinner exits out of 5

15 responses to “Film Review – The Fifth Estate (2013)

    • I’ve been meaning to Mikey, it’s a Gibney doco yeh? He normally comes up with the goods in that genre. There was a great little Australian TV movie called Underground about the early days of Assange, that was good as well.

  1. Thank you for this review, Eddie, I have been hesitant to see this after all the bad reviews, but now I find myself interested, thankee sir. And thank you Mikey for the tip about the documentary. And did a dingo really eat Streep’s baby? My God. Who knows about his? Is it really that dangerous down under? I bet they cover up this sort of thing, huh?

  2. I didn’t think it was nearly as bad as others made it out to be, however, I will admit to saying that it did take a bit of a “movie-of-the-week” approach to what could have been something very compelling and powerful to watch. Instead, it’s just meager material. Good review.

    • Well worth it Drowning, the story itself is to interesting not to be worth a little watch. Shame some other elements didn’t fall into place with this one it could of been a real ripper.

  3. Great review. An interesting film with strong performances but I found some of the surreal visuals distracting. It doesn’t compare favourably to Social Network but I agree this one is definitely worth watching.

    • It really did seem to want to be the next Social Network mixed with Jason Bourne. Interesting way to aim for but perhaps to lofty. Cheers for stopping by Writer.

  4. That’s a pretty fair review man, I have to say I was greatly underwhelmed though. But you raise some good points that I can’t argue with and I did really appreciate Cumberbatch and Bruhl here. Bruhl proved later to be phenomenal in Rush, so here I think he kind of pales but yes he was able to be empathized with fortunately. Not the case with anyone else. 😛

    • I think what helped me with this one man was I really thought I would hate on it like many did, I can’t recall actually ever reading a positive review for it so it took me by surprise a little! Cumberbatch continues to prove though that his a great actor and can’t wait to see him tackle more challenging roles.

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