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The Fifth Estate

Drama . Thriller . Biography

A look at the relationship between WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and his early supporter and eventual colleague Daniel Domscheit-Berg, and how the website's growth and influence led to an irreparable rift between the two friends.

Actors: Benedict Cumberbatch , Dan Stevens , Daniel Brühl , Alicia Vikander , Carice van Houten , Peter Capaldi , Jamie Blackley , Stanley Tucci , Laura Linney , David Thewlis , Anatole Taubman , Alexander Beyer
Directors: Bill Condon
Release: 2013-10-18
More Info:
  • Owen Gleiberman

    The Fifth Estate is flawed (it grips the brain but not the heart), yet it feverishly exposes the tenor of whistle-blowing in the brave new world, with the Internet as a billboard for anyone out to spill secrets. Call it the anti-social network.

    Entertainment Weekly Full Review
  • Philip Kemp

    With a riveting portrayal by Cumberbatch at its heart, The Fifth Estate tells its story grippingly - but finally leaves us none the wiser.

    Total Film Full Review
  • Richard Roeper

    At times The Fifth Estate seems as cutting-edge as the 21st century techno-info revolution it portrays. On other occasions... it’s almost like an expensive “Funny or Die” bit.

    Chicago Sun-Times Full Review
  • Joe Williams

    This thriller about the game-changing website Wikileaks is as smart about cyberspace as “The Social Network,” but there’s a glitch when it shifts the focus from felonious leaders to the misdemeanors of the man who exposed them.

    St. Louis Post-Dispatch Full Review
  • Roger Moore

    The aloof, guarded Cumberbatch plays Assange as a mixture of brilliance, hucksterism, ego and naivete. He carries the baggage of an actor who plays “smart,” with a menacing edge.

    McClatchy-Tribune News Service Full Review
  • Mark Jenkins

    As The Fifth Estate excitedly illustrates, in the Internet age no one can ever really have the last word.

    NPR Full Review
  • James Berardinelli

    Perhaps the most curious and counterproductive aspect of The Fifth Estate, the so-called "Wikileaks movie," is the decision by director Bill Condon and screenwriter Josh Singer to establish the film as a thriller.

    ReelViews Full Review
  • Claudia Puig

    The Fifth Estate doesn't seem to be presenting the full story. Instead, it's a fairly dull thriller about a hugely influential Internet phenomenon.

    USA Today Full Review
  • Peter Travers

    The Fifth Estate is stuck running in place.

    Rolling Stone Full Review
  • Kenneth Turan

    Whenever The Fifth Estate leaves the involving one-on-one drama between Assange and Domscheit-Berg, you wish it wouldn't.

    Los Angeles Times Full Review
  • Bill Goodykoontz

    Instead of delving into the moral questions WikiLeaks asks by its very existence, Condon gives those a passing nod in a couple of weak subplots.

    Arizona Republic Full Review
  • Dave Calhoun

    It’s adequate and often fun, but no match for Cumberbatch’s talents: physically, his Assange is far more complex and intriguing than most of the things we hear him say or see him do.

    Time Out London Full Review
  • Tim Robey

    Benedict Cumberbatch is inspiredly cast, serving up a technically ingenious performance which may be his juiciest ever.

    The Telegraph Full Review
  • Catherine Shoard

    This is highly competent catnip for the watercooler crowd.

    The Guardian Full Review
  • Marc Mohan

    In retrospect, and with no disrespect meant, it may have been a mistake to entrust a story this polarizing to Bill Condon, the filmmaker who most recently made “Twilight: Breaking Dawn,” and “Dreamgirls.”

    Portland Oregonian Full Review
  • Steve Persall

    Cumberbatch is very good, in a movie that isn't.

    Tampa Bay Times Full Review
  • Ben Kenigsberg

    Giving the kind of mannered performance that seems predicated on careful mimicry of 60 Minutes, Cumberbatch impresses without ever coming across as more than an abstraction.

    The A.V. Club Full Review
  • Jordan Hoffman

    For a film that reminds use over and over that this is a whole new world, this movie feels awfully familiar. Full Review
  • Louis Black

    Ultimately, the story becomes one of personalities, which seems inevitable but narrows the accomplishments and ambitions of its focus.

    Austin Chronicle Full Review
  • Christy Lemire

    For a movie about a larger-than-life personality who shook up the world with his brazenness—and since has had to seek political asylum because of it — The Fifth Estate feels unfortunately small and safe. Full Review
  • Peter Rainer

    The omnipresent Benedict Cumberbatch plays Assange, stringy white-gray hair flowing, and Daniel Brühl is Domscheit-Berg. Condon and his screenwriter Josh Singer don’t quite know what to make of this duo, perhaps because the men didn’t quite know what to make of each other, either.

    Christian Science Monitor Full Review
  • Ann Hornaday

    As a piece of filmed entertainment, The Fifth Estate shows why things like authorial point of view and visual sensibility are so essential in bringing such stories to life. Unlike its most obvious predecessor, “The Social Network,” this film doesn’t have much of either, and the weakness shows.

    Washington Post Full Review
  • A.O. Scott

    This version of the WikiLeaks story, directed by Bill Condon from a script by Josh Singer, is a moderate snoozefest, undone by its timid, muddled efforts at fair-mindedness.

    The New York Times Full Review
  • Mick LaSalle

    Not entirely successful or appealing - not exactly a delightful evening in the company of scintillating characters - but interesting all the same.

    San Francisco Chronicle Full Review
  • Andrew O'Hehir

    This movie isn’t terrible enough to derail the “Sherlock Holmes” star’s upward trajectory toward pop-culture domination, but Cumberbatch’s subtle and intriguing performance as the inscrutable Aussie loner behind WikiLeaks is surrounded by a plodding and minor melodrama that’s ludicrously ill suited to the material. Full Review
  • Ty Burr

    The Fifth Estate is itself the response of an entrenched and corporatized information system toward something it barely comprehends. It makes a media format that has sustained us for decades — the two-hour movie — feel like a 20th-century dinosaur.

    Boston Globe Full Review
  • Connie Ogle

    Assange is a compelling figure that merited a better effort.

    Miami Herald Full Review
  • Michael Phillips

    We're snowed by a great deal of intersecting and crisscrossing information in The Fifth Estate, and Singer's script lacks organizational skills. I can relate. But that doesn't make parsing this busy film, or — crucially — its true, contradictory feelings about Assange any easier.

    Chicago Tribune Full Review
  • Rex Reed

    Timely but sluggish and confusing.

    New York Observer Full Review
  • John DeFore

    The most compelling thing here by far is the film's vision of Assange, by all accounts a man of enormous self-regard and slippery ethics. Benedict Cumberbatch has the character in hand from the start.

    The Hollywood Reporter Full Review
  • Dennis Harvey

    Both the kindest and most damning thing you can say about The Fifth Estate is that it primarily hobbles itself by trying to cram in more context-needy material than any single drama should have to bear.

    Variety Full Review
  • Eric Kohn

    An uneven, intermittently thoughtful but largely preachy overview of WikiLeaks' rising influence that has less of an issue determining Assange's character than it does with telling a compelling story.

    indieWIRE Full Review
  • Kevin Jagernauth

    A lack of courage on behalf of the filmmakers to take any position renders the film narratively limp.

    The Playlist Full Review
  • David Edelstein

    The lesson of this is that there’s no easy way to dramatize the story of Julian Assange and that trying to turn it into a conventional melodrama is not just politically irresponsible but dull-witted.

    New York Magazine (Vulture) Full Review
  • Elizabeth Weitzman

    What a letdown it is to see this spellbinding, era-defining story tamed into such stodgy submission.

    New York Daily News Full Review
  • Joe Morgenstern

    The Fifth Estate gives us an obsessive-compulsive messiah with a taste for martyrdom, and full-screen cascades of computer code in place of a coherent plot. Exhausting in a new way, the movie is a data dump devoid of drama.

    Wall Street Journal Full Review
  • Keith Phipps

    Condon seems to hope energetic staging and furrowed brows will compensate for a script that’s essentially an exchange of halfhearted arguments.

    The Dissolve Full Review
  • Alan Scherstuhl

    The issues at play here are fascinating, but Condon and Singer never let any argument about journalism or the philosophy of free information last longer than a couple ping-ponged lines between master (Assange) and student (Domscheit-Berg).

    Village Voice Full Review
  • Keith Uhlich

    Brühl, meanwhile, is saddled with the unenviable task of being this hollow movie’s slow-dawning voice of reason: His climactic conversation with newspaper editor David Thewlis (never worse) is one of the most embarrassingly didactic Way We Live Now™ summations ever filmed.

    Time Out New York Full Review
  • Adam Smith

    Disappointingly dull account of a tale desperately in need of a sharper screenplay and some directorial vim. Might as well wait for the Blu-ray, Jules.

    Empire Full Review
  • R. Kurt Osenlund

    The film is guilty of some of the same quick judgment it clearly doesn't endorse, exploiting Julian Assange's unmistakable appearance to help give itself a boogeyman.

    Slant Magazine Full Review
  • Kyle Smith

    Hire “Dreamgirls” director Bill Condon to tell the story of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks? Sure, and next let’s hear from Lady Gaga on the Higgs boson particle.

    New York Post Full Review
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