By now, everyone has heard of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. The Fifth Estate tells the story of the quest to expose the deceptions and corrptions of power that turned an Internet upstart into the 21st century’s most fiercely debated organisation.
Julian Assange created WikilLeaks on a shoestring budget, creating a platform that allows whistleblowers to anonymously leak covert data, exposing government secrets and corporate corruption. The group eventually has the biggest trove of U.S. intelligence documents sent to them, causing a web if intrigue as they debate with news organisations what should be released, what should be edited, at the same time avoiding the agents of the various governments, and keeping themselves out of custody.
The Fifth Estate raises the question of whether we have the wool pulled over our eyes by the governments we elect, it questions when we should expose secrets, and when it is in the best interests of the lives of others, to keep those from the public.
Although dramatised to a degree, compressing the story and events into the length of a film, the essence of the story remains. Cumberbatch transforms himself from previous roles, portraying an Assange who begins a journey into paranoia, never knowing who to trust, and becoming prone to spontaneous outbursts.
The story, although compressed and dramatised, is engrossing, especially for those who have followed the story on the international news channels. The cast brings this tension to life on-screen, putting the audience on the edge of their seats, not knowing what will happen next. Great casting, and great direction. In the age of the global village, this is a story that will open the eyes of everyone to the commodity of data and secrets.
The disc is encoded at a high bitrate, allowing clear viewing on an HD screen when upscaled via software. With a drama, where most of the on-screen action is dialogue, the sound does not lend itself to the use of the surrounds, however they are used on occasion to add to the atmosphere of a location. There are unfortunately no bonus features on the disc.
The Fifth Estate is available now, for purchase in South Africa.