'Fifth Estate' dazzles, doesn't dig deep in Assange
As the world doesn't seem to have quite made up its mind about Julian Assange, it seems fitting that the new film about him and the rise of WikiLeaks has an ambivalence about it, as well.
“The Fifth Estate” takes us inside the hackers milieu. It visits the very real consequences of Assange's actions. But it never gets inside the man.
Director Bill (“Kinsey”/ “Dreamgirls”) Condon dazzles us with the whirl of Assange's crusade. In a breathless two hours, the film lets us see the man through the eyes of a new recruit and close associate. Young Euro-hacker Daniel Berg (Daniel Bruhl of “Rush”) is in awe of this international man of mystery, charismatic with his shock of white hair, his steely determination to set up a website run by legions of whistle-blowers just like himself.
Benedict Cumberbatch plays Assange as a somewhat-justified paranoid. He is a man above the mayhem he creates.
Assange sees conspiracies everywhere and has a sneering contempt for mainstream news organizations (the fourth estate) he figures WikiLeaks displaces. Only, nobody is noticing WikiLeaks at the time Berg is recruited.
Berg starts wondering who this wildly secretive weirdo with an obsession for control, privacy and fame really is and how big the infrastructure of the suddenly famous WikiLeaks is.
Bruhl brings a youthful enthusiasm and naivete to Berg. Laura Linney is terrific as a State Department employee trying to do her work, frantically pulling in secret sources before they're exposed and murdered.
And the aloof, guarded Cumberbatch plays Assange as a mixture of brilliance, hucksterism, ego and naivete. For all the technical sparkle, Condon never quite connects all the dots about Assange.
Roger Moore is a staff writer for McClatchy-Tribune News Service.
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments â either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.