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Times of India
The Fifth Estate traces the story of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (Cumberbatch) who teams up with Daniel Berg (Bruhl) to become international watchdogs. Via WikiLeaks, they expose corruption, lift the lid on corporate crime and shed light on government wrongdoings.
The slick opening montage of this movie sets the stage for a potentially exciting and gripping story. Assange starts out with nothing, but his silent resolve, coupled with vision, determination and focus, far outreaches his finances. His reputation as a hipster/hacker grows and partnering with Berliner, Berg (a brilliant programmer) is a masterstroke. Together, they make WikiLeaks a force to reckon with.
As Assange knows that WikiLeaks offers the kind of shocking information that he feels people want to - and probably should - know about, his obsession starts veering towards paranoia. He also has a nose for sensationalism.
His friendship, followed by a disagreement with Berg is reminiscent of the Zuckerberg-Saverin equation from
The Social Network
. While that movie brought to light various aspects about human nature,
The Fifth Estate
doesn't come close in edginess. You will however, wonder about whether Assange is in it for the greater good, or to feed his own galloping ego. He realizes he has access to information that can make governments quake, and that kind of power can go to anyone's head.
Sarah Shaw (Linney) and James Boswell (Tucci) of the US State Department portray their roles well and represent much about the US Government's perspective on transparency. While the real Julian Assange presently languishes in diplomatic asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, Cumberbatch does a good job of portraying the embattled whistleblower.
Cumberbatch's Assange is emotionless, cold and sometimes a bit sinister. For someone who insists on global transparency, his own personality is paradoxically as impervious as a cold steel wall. You wonder what actually is going on inside his head.
A movie about Assange and WikiLeaks is bound to be tough to tackle and while it has a few things going for it, Condon could have scored better if he chose to focus deeper on Assange's admittedly complex and mysterious psyche.