The Fifth Estate Review by Tarek Fayoumi


Written by David Domscheit-Berg and David Lee (both who were involved with the novel) and director Bill Condon, “The Fifth Estate” goes right to life of Julian Assange. Condon’s former films “Kinsey” (2004) and “Dreamgirls” (2006) are both well-crafted films. “The Fifth Estate” plummeted at the box office opening weekend and its budget only got up to $28,000,000 (estimated). This is shocking given that it gears on one of the most wanted man in history…Julian Assange.

Benedict Cumberbatch plays Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks: a website invented to share the deceptions and corruptions of power in the government. His colleague is Daniel Berg (played by Daniel Bruhl); a professional hacker that teams up with Assange. Berg tags along, but becomes hesitant once he realizes that Assange wants to expose the biggest trove of confidential intelligence documents in history.

Once Berg realizes that Assange and him are on the grid for exposing illegal information, they both begin to criticize a defining question of their time: what are the costs of keeping secrets in a free society-and what are the costs of exposing them? That question remains anonymous until the end of the movie.

The rest of the movie shows Assange getting too much into Berg’s personal life. The setup suggests suspicion, but Cumberbatch’s attitude is so laid-back that it seems his ego is all that matters to him. He advances at intelligence, but seems to struggle with caring about others. This is an issue for Berg and viewers. Lacking characterization, viewers wonder more about Assange and not so much about Berg.

Berg is playing against Assange. “The fifth Estate” quickly makes its viewers realize that Berg and Assange’s friendship is torn apart. Primarily the fact that colleagues work together for so long and become aggravated by the element’s of one’s behavior. “The Fifth Estate” portrays this issue as if it was a key-element of corruption–this is not just Assange’s ego, but that Berg tried to tell Assange from the beginning that what he is doing is wrong, but Assange continued doing what he wants and did not listen to Berg at all. “The Fifth Estate” easily leaves government to not be the meaning of the film (government should be the meaning though). “The Fifth Estate” ends up gearing on betrayal and revenge. That is why its adaptation is not accurate to the true story.

The relationship between Assange and Berg appears as if there friendship led to major accomplishments. As the camera focuses on the facial expressions on Berg at a convention, it becomes repetitive. Their friendship–like mentioned, their criticism–is causing them to hate each other. Assange himself, at first wonders but in the end, he still only cares about his ego.

Assange and Berg frequently find a concern to argue about. With an adaptation though, the issue is money is the bigger importance than the quality of films. Due to this, “The Fifth Estate” is unorthodox. The film enters a serious subject unprofessionally; whenever it seems to be a moment of truth, it only relies on arguments and jealousies that are not the purpose of the film.



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