This is the twisted political tale of Wikileaks and how it brought our nation and the world to its knees. “The Fifth Estate” stars Benedict Cumberbatch, as Julian Assange and Daniel Brühl as Daniel Domscheit-Berg, his partner. This is ultimately the story of Assange not only in terms of Wikileaks, but as a man. Who is he? Is he just a narcissist bent on using whatever means necessary to bring the liars to their knees while at the same time make himself and who he is more important than the message itself? We never really know. Cumberbatch as Assange while affecting all of the mannerisms seems flat. It is as if he is a wind up doll, going through the motions, yet not finding the man underneath.
Domscheit-Berg, as Daniel, packs each frame with subtle nuances and real human grit. His performance gives the film a balance it would otherwise not have. Daniel, of all the characters in the film, was the most conflicted. In a sense he is the whistleblower for Assange, and Wikileaks.
As Wikileaks ability to expose the liars and deceivers grows (as well as their name, which is bandied about on numerous news clips) Assange becomes even more paranoid and self-obsessed than he was to begin with. Yet, the questions he asks about the rights of whistleblowers do not seem to apply to all. Assange seems to be saying that if you do evil deeds, then the cost should come down on those who do them, and all they share their lives with (whether they are guilty or not).
This is a fast paced film, rather like an action movie with governments and those who work for them, FBI, NSA, and Banks etc. as the bad guys. The pace seems to match the feverish way in which all of them lead their lives.
The question though that they put forward seems to be the focal point of the film. It is odd that a man, who spent his entire life exposing lies, is the one whose life is built on them.