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Movie Review: Fifth Estate

Nowadays it is easy enough to wander into the nearest theater and find a comedy, romance, or even horror movie that lets you just sit back and lose yourself. Once in a while, however, it is nice to watch a film that actually makes you think. The Fifth Estate, released October 18 in the United States, is a dramatization of the work of Julian Assange and his rise to global infamy with his brainchild, Wikileaks.

Assange is portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch, best known for his role as Sherlock Holmes in BBC’s critically acclaimed television show Sherlock. While it may not be my favorite role that he’s played (it’s difficult to top the famous detective or the Star Trek villain), the performance is spectacular. Cumberbatch may have had difficulties as an Englishman attempting to pull off an Australian accent, but his speeches and interviews as the zealous activist are eerily similar to the originals. Despite his best efforts, however, he does demonize Assange to a certain extent.

The other members of the cast, which include Laura Linney, Stanley Tucci, and Dan Stevens, just to name a few, certainly do not fall short of delivering their usual high caliber of performances, but there is only so much an actor can do with a script. While the acting was fantastic, there was simply something lacking. Perhaps not every political thriller can make one wide-eyed and glued to the edge of their seat like The Interpreter (2005), but it seemed like certain moments of the movie could have been enhanced to really convey the gravity of the situation.

There is no doubt that I would recommend this film to those who enjoy the genre. The problem, however, is that the film does not live up to the title of its genre. A thriller, especially one that depicts the largest leak of classified documents in history, should make one’s heart pound at the climax and leave one deeply contemplative by the end. This film, unfortunately, was only able to achieve half of that. Earning a score of 38% on Rotten Tomatoes and 5.7 out of 10 on IMDB, it is clear that the film, while certainly an excuse to show off the skills of some top-notch actors, does not fully deliver.


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