Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Daniel Brühl, Carice van Houten
Director: Bill Condon
What's it about:
There is a danger that floats over a films head when it sets its story around a real person whose life has been chronicled extensively by the current day media. In case of the The Fifth Estate (a tongue in cheek title) Bill Condon focuses on the almost mystical and infamous life of WikiLeaks founder and an underground celebrity Julian Assange. Given the turmoil and dramatic events surrounding him, Assange could make as a leading hero for any of todays fiction writers. Unfortunately the makers of the film get so caught up in the theatretics that they lose all focus on the man. Instead we get fragments of what went behind the scene and set his mind ticking as he made those headline grabbing exposes.
What's hot :
There is an interesting analogy the film offers. While WikiLeaks grows stronger each day, so does the ego of Assange. At times we wonder if he's doing it for the fame and the name, and the part of social justice and transparency is a mere farce. Those wanting to know the intricacies and how the game was played will be in for a treat. Despite the focus being on events leading up to the big moment that played out on TV screens all over the world, we get to see an admirable portion of how that moment came to be. Stanley Tucci and Laura Linney are superbly cast and their parts are some times more enjoyable than that of the protagonist.
What's not :
Cumberbatch has the heavy task of playing a very difficult part and he struggles through it for most of the part. There is a loss of perspective in the way he approaches this role. Maybe the writers are to be blamed, but to his credit he does manage to mime some of his physical behaviour. The first half opens brilliantly but gets too technical too soon. Condon spreads the plot too thin, not able to let us sift through the details of the back story. Also the length and pace of the second half is a major downer.
What to do :
A relevant and interesting subject let down by poor writing and shoddy direction, The Fifth Estate seems like an opportunity over looked.