The Fifth Estate (3 stars)

The Fifth Estate

The Cumberbatch-starring WikiLeaks drama mimics The Social Network, but lacks that film's focus

The very notion of Benedict Cumberbatch playing the otherworldly Julian Assange is enough to attract anyone’s interest in The Fifth Estate. Cumberbatch brings a mixture of steely self-determination and implacable, inscrutable calm to his portrayal, proving once again what a fine Bond villain he might make one day. The film that surrounds him, on the other hand, is frantic in its attempt to chart the rise of WikiLeaks.

Very much in the mould of The Social Network, WikiLeaks’ story is told through the relationship between Assange and loyal lieutenant Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Daniel Brühl). It’s a friendship that gradually sours as Assange places the leaking of official information above lives that might be endangered in the process.

The Fifth Estate lacks the focus and cogency that made The Social Network so compelling. The ethical and moral concerns about WikiLeaks and the chance to deliver a psychological profile of the enigmatic Assange are generally sacrificed to the creation of a dynamic, Bourne-style slice of international intrigue. It‘s a well-made and entertaining conspiracy thriller but remains a disappointingly superficial treatment of material that promised much more.

General release from Fri 11 Oct.

THE FIFTH ESTATE Official Trailer

The Fifth Estate

  • 3 stars
  • 2013
  • US / Belgium
  • 2h 4min
  • PG
  • Directed by: Bill Condon
  • Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Daniel Brühl, Carice van Houten
  • UK release: 11 October 2013

Condon leaves behind the Twilight saga for this weighty real-life thriller about Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.