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The Fifth Estate – review

What I took away from this film:

1. I’ve accomplished nothing with my life so far.

What’s funny (only really not) is that shortly before I went to see this movie, I talked to someone who’d never heard of: Benedict Cumberbatch, Julian Assange, or Wikileaks. I was blown away, absolutely astonished. I honestly thought everyone who had internet access knew about Wikileaks after all that went down. It was a little frightening to realize that wasn’t true; like that single statement of ignorance capsulized just how oblivious the general population can be to what’s really going on in the world.

And that, of course, is partially what The Fifth Estate is about. Regular people who don’t know what’s going on, those who do know and cover it up, those who know and don’t do anything about it, and finally, those who do and take whatever steps needed to expose the truth. Of course, it’s also about ego, personality, and self-interest in the glare of the world spotlight.

My ‘knowledge’ of the whole wikileaks/Assange thing comes from admittedly mainstream media outlets, so it’s not like I’m really versed in what went down. I didn’t follow the news religiously, nor was my life personally effected by everything that happened. Except, of course, everyone’s life was personally effected by it because the US security and diplomatic services got served by a handful of people with laptops and second-hand servers. Dayam.

The Fifth Estate as a movie was very well done. I’m not going to speak to the veracity of events shown because, well, it’s Hollywood. I liked the style of the movie, the understated way the events themselves were portrayed, how they showed cyberspace, the direction, the acting, all of it was top notch. I’ve only seen Daniel Bruhl once (Inglorious Basterds), but he did a wonderful job here. Benedict Cumberbatch was, as always, phenomenal.

Interestingly, this wasn’t actually a movie about Julian Assange. It was about Daniel Berg and how Assange essentially jacked his life to ‘the cause.’ And I totally get why they marketed the movie the way they did; why wouldn’t they take advantage of Benedict’s (finally) rising star? Plus, it’s not like he wasn’t in it. The focus was fairly even-handed, though more sympathetic to Berg in the end. Whether or not the rundown of Assange’s personality/psyche is true I have no idea, but they did at least try to go into what formed him and why he basically took on the world.

A particular shout-out to David Thewlis who did a great job as Nick Davies, one of the reporters. Honestly, the entire cast was just wonderful.

I would definitely recommend this movie for those in a thoughtful or curious mood. Don’t be fooled by the action-y previews, it’s not a nonstop action thriller like they make out, though there are a few rather tense moments sprinkled throughout. It is, however, the first look at an intriguing person and the insane, worldwide events he provoked as well as all of those involved. It is to be noted that Julian Assange himself essentially ripped apart the movie so it’s obvious he doesn’t think an accurate portrayal.

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About Nancy M. Griffis

Author and screenwriter who loves scifi/action/adventure/urban fantasy genres. I have two published novels, Mind Games and Eternal Investigations, as well as a short story published for charity called "Home Fires Burning." All are available through amazon.com and barnesandnobles.com.

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Nancy at the Tim Burton exhibit in L.A.

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