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Movie Review

The Fifth Estate also known as “The Man Who Sold the World”

MPAA Rating: R for language and some violence.

Reviewed by: David Simpson

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Biography Thriller Drama Adaptation
2 hr. 8 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
October 18, 2013 (wide—1,700+ theaters)
DVD: January 28, 2014
Copyright, Touchstone Pictures (Disney) click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Touchstone Pictures (Disney) Copyright, Touchstone Pictures (Disney) Copyright, Touchstone Pictures (Disney) Copyright, Touchstone Pictures (Disney) Copyright, Touchstone Pictures (Disney) Copyright, Touchstone Pictures (Disney) Copyright, Touchstone Pictures (Disney) Copyright, Touchstone Pictures (Disney)
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Touchstone Pictures (Disney)

based on two books: Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World’s Most Dangerous Website written by Daniel Domscheit-Berg and WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy written by David Leigh and Luke Harding

Featuring: Daniel BrühlDaniel Berg
Benedict CumberbatchJulian Assange
Stanley TucciJames Boswell
Alicia VikanderAnke Domscheit
Laura Linney … Sarah Shaw
Peter Capaldi … Alan Rusbridger
David Thewlis … Nick Davies
Anatole Taubman … Holger Stark
Alexander Beyer … Marcel Rosenbach
Philip Bretherton … Bill Keller
Dan Stevens … Ian Katz
Jamie Blackley … Ziggy
Ludger Pistor … Supervisor
more »
Director: Bill Condon—“Dreamgirls,” “Kinsey,” “Gods and Monsters”
Producer: DreamWorks SKG
Reliance Entertainment
more »
Distributor: Touchstone Pictures, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

“You can’t expose the world’s secrets without exposing yourself.”

The worst opening at the box-office of any movie in 2013 by October. NOT what the makers had in mind when they orchestrated a piece of storytelling involving one of the biggest stories of the last few years. But before you switch off, and put this down to a flop on all levels, I’m going to bring a few things to your attention.

“The Fifth Estate” is a drama based around the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the Australian in hot water for leaking government secrets to the public. Does the public deserve to know all the government and military is doing? Or do some things have no right to see the light of day? The film references these secrets, and the work he puts towards getting them in the open, but does not focus on them.

This is not a facts-based drama with an overload of information leaving you with no doubts as to what took place. It is a character biopic of Assange himself, and his major two-man team, with all the personal struggles and emotions being the driving force.

So why has this been so critically panned? Here are the reasons I enjoyed it.

Firstly, Benedict Cumberbatch is always worth watching. If you have seen “Sherlock,” the innovative BBC series, you will be fully aware of this fact. However, this is not the fictional character of Sherlock Holmes. This is the real life person Julian Assange that Cumberbatch is portraying. In this area, he does not fail. It’s a deep and intriguing character, and sheds light on personality that is not provided in the average news story. Reason One to give this a try.

Secondly, this is not an entertaining film. Nothing about WikiLeaks is entertaining. This is about a man, his work, and the repercussions of his actions intertwining with his potential past actions. However, it is well made, well put together, and, aside from some peculiar evasiveness of the topical issues, it is a solid production. The script is average, but the delivery of what is there is successful.

This film is rated R for a reason. It has a consistent amount of language with solid R-rated swearing. There are sexual references to characters actions with the opposite sex, and there is one sexually driven scene without nudity. The violence is rare but of an extreme nature, and would be hard for any younger child to watch. This is not an R-rated film of a graphic level, but deserves its rating for sure.

As believers, we are faced with daily convictions, and we have to make changes to our lives, and, to live with God in harmony, we have to take steps to be vulnerable before Him and each other. When we are convicted or challenged to do something, or go somewhere, we are supposed to go with passion. In the same way, Assange goes at his desires and passionate impulses for open public knowledge with drive and emotion. It is people like him, whether their cause is completely without fault, or completely right, that we can at least take positives from to commit to our lives with the same passion and same heart.

I encourage you not to count out this movie. There are strengths involved in it. It is not without its flaws, but then what is these days? At the end of the day, I believe it is the focus on the character, rather than the events, that led to this film not receiving the positive reception it thought it would get.

For me: 6/10.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Heavy—“Christ” (3), “Jesus,” “G*d-d*mn,” OMG, f-words (7), s-words (15), various vulgar sexual words / Sex/Nudity: Moderate

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

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