"If you want to know the truth... no one is going to tell you the truth. They're only going to tell you their version. So, if you want the truth, you have to seek it out for yourself."
The Fifth Estate is an engaging political thriller based on real events involving the popular and questionable internet site, WikiLeaks, which intended to work as a sort of watchdog site exposing the corrupt actions of powerful organizations and governments. Despite all the media attention this got all over the news, audiences didn't seem too interested in checking out this film. If you've basically kept up with the news about WikiLeaks than this film doesn't offer much more than a dramatic story focusing on the main characters. In the end this film only tells its own version of the truth, but if you really want to know what happened you will need to investigate more on your own. The Fifth Estate raises some interest towards the subject, but it never really informs much about it. Despite being a bit one sided and exposing Assange as an egocentric and obsessive character, it still managed to raise interesting questions. The film focuses more on the relationship between Assange and Daniel Berg who teamed up to build the site than on the actual events themselves. It is worth watching for the dynamic relationship between the two, perfectly played by Benedict Cumberbatch and Daniel Bruhl, two actors that weren't on my radar before 2013, but have had an impressive year.
The Fifth Estate was based on Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World's Most Dangerous Website) and David Leigh's books (WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy) and the screenplay was adapted by Josh Singer (The West Wing) which focused on the relationship between WikiLeak founder, Julian Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch), and Daniel Berg (Daniel Bruhl) who teamed up with him to guarantee that the website would protect the anonymity of the whistleblowers that were exposing corruption and dark secrets of powerful organizations such as banks or dictatorships. Thus the site began exposing corporate crimes and other government secrets at a very fast pace. However when the site receives thousands of confidential US military and government documents, Assange and Berg differ in how they should deal with this sensitive material.
The lack of public interest in the WikiLeak scandals kind of hurt this film, but the truth is that with everything that went on it's hard to decipher what the intentions of the producers of this film truly are. It might be one sided, but it still presents some interesting points and it is left to the viewer to keep on searching for the truth on their own. The focus of the film is on the relationship between the two main characters and I was fine with that because the performances were strong. Alicia Vikander, Laura Linney, Anthony Mackie, and Stanley Tucci aren't given much to do with their characters considering the plot kept on jamming a lot of information in a short period of time and they really didn't stand out, but it was still nice to see some of these talented actors here. Vikander is gorgeous and I'm glad she's getting more roles after her great performance in the danish film, A Royal Affair. Bill Condon is a talented director (Gods and Monsters, Kinsey, Dreamgirls), but The Fifth Estate is a flawed film. We never learn much about the secrets that were being uncovered, since the film focused more on the relationship between Assange and Berg. It's more interested in the characters and exposing Assange's flaws than in telling the actual story. Cumberbatch and Bruhl save this film and make it watchable.