Daniel Brühl, left, plays a hacker and Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Julian Assange in 'The Fifth Estate.' (DreamWorks II)
“The Fifth Estate” raises some interesting questions in an interesting manner.
Unfortunately, the film is likely to get bogged down in arguments over the accuracy of its portrayal of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (played with gusto by Benedict Cumberbatch), many of them raised by Assange himself. But Assange is only the conduit here, the bearer of big news; he is not the news.
The news is that we’re living in a world where information flows at a dizzying rate, not just from whistle-blowers to news organizations and the web, but over our phones and computers to government agencies, corporations and heaven knows where else. And the speed of it all keeps building.
No matter what you think of him — and he doesn’t really come off badly in the film — Julian Assange realized this early on. The film starts with him bouncing from country to country, laptop in backpack, encountering injustices and exposing them on the web.
He soon hooks up with a young hacker named Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Daniel Brühl) who helps set up safe ways for whistle-blowers to transfer data to WikiLeaks. At first Domscheit-Berg thinks he’s only one of many helping Assange, but then he realizes Assange is a one-man band.
And, it turns out, that’s how Assange likes it. When Domscheit-Berg starts catching the spotlight, Assange is enraged. And when others start questioning the impact and veracity of information he is posting, Assange charges ahead.
Director William Condon (“Kinsey,” “The Twilight Saga”) makes all this look as tense as it should, and he keeps our eye on the big picture. It may be a bit chilly, but “The Fifth Estate” is good, scary information well-processed.
'The Fifth Estate'
Rated R for language and some violence
Running time: 128 minutes