The Fifth Estate (2013)

I really wanted to like this movie. I remember in the pre-Snowden days, when WikiLeaks was the big story, and there was a lot of debate and outrage over what WikiLeaks and their odd leader Julian Assange did. I wanted to really like this movie.

Benedict Cumberbatch is a fantastic actor. He embraced this role wholeheartedly, and he even managed the queer accent that Assange sports in real life. He commits to the role with its bucketloads of emotional twists and turns. He's forced to run the gamut, and he runs like a madman. I remember hearing that Benedict was going to play this part and he consequently went to try and see Julian, but he was rejected with a line about how he shouldn't play the role, as he was just going to be a pawn for the slander campaign against Assange.

He is flanked by Daniel Brühl, who I last remember seeing in Rush. He did a very good job there, and he does a good job here, too. His character is supposed to be the emotional counterpart to Julian's robot-like focus on exposing secrets and ignoring other people's feelings. Daniel counter's the constant focus on exposing secrets by constantly reminding us that the purpose of the site was to protect the leakers instead of just publishing secret. It's the nature of leaking that there will be reprisals, and the idea of the complicated submission process was to protect their identity as much as possible.

We get some insight about what is going on in the US government around all the leaking of government documents with Laura Linney and Stanley Tucci as relatively low level government stooges. They banter back and forth about the significance of WikiLeaks and the nature of Assange. Really, you don't wind up giving too much of a crap about them.

The writing was pretty horrible, and the direction sucked significantly. I'm guessing the guy who wrote the story and the guy who wrote the dialog both knew that Benedict would be playing the lead, and they tried to get as much Sherlock in there as they could. His callous disregard for Daniel's feelings, personal life, and schedule are textbook Sherlock and Daniel responds like Watson would every time.

I think I got more of a feeling for what was happening and how significant it was when it happened in real life. There is no emotional investment in most of what they do. I think one of the problems is the odd way they try to create the virtual work as a series of desks in an infinite and black room. It's like the opposite of where Flo from the Progressive Insurance commercials lives.

Directing was terrible
Acting was fantastic
Writing was very bad
Story was not fantastic
Cinematography was okay

2.0/5

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