Chronicling the rise to prominence of whistle blowing website WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch), The Fifth Estate is told from the perspective of Daniel Dumsheit-Berg (Daniel Brühl), former spokesperson for the site, a computer genius who was committed to Assange’s mission to expose government cover-ups and lies. The Fifth Estate attempts to investigate how the two men used the power of the information age to make WikiLeaks the influential force it became. While intriguing at times, the feature lacks the punch necessary to viewers wholly engaged for the two hour runtime.
In 2007, tech drone Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Daniel Bruhl) meets computer hacker Julian Assange at a Chaos Computer Club event in Berlin. Domscheit-Berg is immediately impressed by Assange’s confidence and commitment to make his website, WikiLeaks, a treasure trove of important, anonymous information. Joining the site believing he is part of a vast network of volunteers, Daniel soon learns that Julian had been working on his own. In truth, Julian doesn’t trust people, preferring to keep the number of those who know what he’s up to at a minimum. Assange knows that one big story is all he needs to make the site a significant player on the world stage.
Using an encrypted system that apparently guarantees secrecy, it doesn’t take long for WikiLeaks to gain a reputation for posting sensitive information, with Assange insisting on a no redactions policy. As the sites popularity grows exponentially, Assange clearly enjoys his new status as a revolutionary, while Daniel wants credit for his work on the project. At the same time, unlike Julian, Daniel begins to worry about what his commitment to WikiLeaks has done to his personal relationships. During all of this, the C.I.A. grows concerned, with Sarah Shaw (Laura Linney) and James Boswell (Stanley Tucci) attempting to determine what type of threat Julian has become.
Bill Condon has shown himself to be a more than capable director over the years, but here everything is flashy and overdone. Graphics pop up all over the place, yet do nothing to enhance or move the occasionally sluggish story along. It’s really a shame, because Benedict Cumberbatch and Daniel Bruhl do a pretty good job with the slight material given by screenwriter Josh Singer, as do Laura Linney and Stanley Tucci in supporting roles, but none of them can elevate the material for the entire film.
Presented in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio, the 1080p reference quality transfer exhibits excellent sharpness and vivid colors throughout. Flesh tones are accurate. Black levels are strong and contrast is dialed in. There are no issues here to speak of.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is completely immersive, allowing for the various ambient sounds to flow throughout. Carter Burwell’s driving score spreads throughout the fronts and rears for maximum effectiveness. Dialogue has been well recorded and has been placed in the center channel.
English SDH, Spanish, and French subtitles are available.
The following extras are included:
- The Submission Platform (HD, 10:25) The film’s special effects are discussed, with an emphasis on the WikiLeaks’ symbolic office motif. Also covered is the general visual look of the film. Director Bill Condon, production designer Mark Tidesley, writer Josh Singer, and special effects supervisors are interviewed.
- In-Camera Graphics (HD, 6:25) A look at how the filmmakers managed to create in camera graphic for the film and how the actors interacted with it. Director Bill Condon and production designer Mark Tidesley are interviewed.
- Scoring Secrets (HD, 9:11) Composer Carter Burwell describes the various ideas he had for the music for the film and describes how he reached out to other experts in tonalities to get him exactly the sound he wanted.
- Trailers and TV Sports (HD, 6:34) The theatrical trailer and seven TV spot ads can be watched together or separately.
- DVD/Digital Copy: The disc and code sheet are enclosed in case.