The Fifth Estate falls in to the category of better left alone.
The Fifth Estate is a speculative piece of work that has not much value other than slamming Assange with a long winded piece that presents him as a destructive, self serving, obsessive egomaniac with nothing in mind but himself and his Wikileaks. Throughout the film, it was hard to look past the propaganda type elements that were meant to destroy Assange's reputation as the founder of the new age of information sharing. At times the film seems like it may finally relinquish its incriminating portrayal and offer a real piece of modern history, but it ultimately becomes a nearly worthless paint by numbers slam piece. And it doesn't stop there.
This is one of the most boring movies about technology that's ever been released. It's overlong and lacks the excitement that a film like this needs. Audiences are expected to follow a nonsensical timeline that jumps around consistently and lacks any fluidity or dynamic. We're taken on a global journey with Assange and his counterparts but are never given any explanation for why he's there and how in the hell he can afford to consistently travel the world despite any real income. These are the details that could have made this much less a damning presentation and more a relevant story of the man with a laptop and a backpack that the U.S. government feared.
Despite the glaring flaws, Benedict Cumberbatch and Daniel Bruhl both offer up some killer performances. Each do their best to keep audiences interested with portrayals that are hauntingly similar to their real life counterparts. Cumberbatch excels in these types of roles. He has a certain penchant for emotionally vacant, hard nosed characters that have nothing to achieve but self fulfilling motives. Now I understand why Assange said this movie did not paint him in a nice light. The Fifth Estate strips any and all humanity from the man and makes him an unlikable manipulator with nothing in mind but himself and his obsessive behavior.
If you're looking for a true story about Julian Assange and Wikileaks, this is not it. This is a work of propaganda based fiction that ruminates on what actually happened during those years. We're given an altered depiction of a man that tried to change the world and are left with a slanted presentation that strips away any good he was trying to do by leaving us with the impression that he's a sex offender and criminal.
-Review by Chris George