‘The Fifth Estate’ Movie Review – Subject Trumps Movie
There are some real life stories that are so good that they deserve to be made into a movie. However, an interesting subject matter doesn’t always guarantee a great movie.
Before we delve into what worked and what didn’t work in The Fifth Estate, let’s first talk about the story. The movie tells the story of a computer hacker Julian Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his commitment, through his organization Wikileaks, to spreading the truth by allowing anyone from anywhere around the world to submit highly classified information anonymously. The film is mostly told through the point of view of his colleague Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Daniel Brühl).
So what worked in this movie? Two things really shone in this film: The performances and the subject matter.
Cumberbatch does an impressive job of portraying Assange as a complex, intense and sometimes disturbing character. You find yourself at times rooting for him while at the same time wanting his comeuppance; which is usually the indication that the actor is doing something right. Cumberbath is ably assisted in his scenes by the wickedly talented Daniel Brühl who does a good job of portraying the conflicted hero of this story.
Performances aside, it was also interesting for the audience to be exposed to a stylized version of this new form of citizen journalism that shook the western political media conglomerate to its core. While at first, the Wikileaks organization starts out as David in front of Goliath, it quickly graduates into something even more terrifying as its quest of exposing the truth rips away at the illusory veneer of normalcy of the western world.
Now, let’s move into what didn’t work in The Fifth Estate. While the performance and the subject matter in the film were quite notable, they are not enough to make up for the two main deficiencies in this movie.
First, there is a stylistic visual device used in the film that was made to show how Wikileaks as an organization performed its work and give a visual reference of its inner structure. Unfortunately, it ended being greatly over-used and made the whole thing a bit too cartoonish, which really took you out of the movie.
Second, the film suffers from a rhythmic issue with intense plot driven moments interspersed with slower and sometimes boring scenes that really have no place there. It is that imbalance that in the end makes the movie feel longer than it is as we just want to move the story along and get to the interesting bits.
While The Fifth Estate had some enjoyable aspects, overall it fell flat for me as I found myself reaching for my mental remote trying to fast forward through the boring parts. But, still that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it, especially if you are really intrigued by the subject matter or are a huge Benedict Cumberbatch fan.
If you do end up seeing it, let me know what you though of it below.
The Fifth Estate is now out in theaters. You can watch the trailer for the movie below.