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The Fifth Estate (2013)


Average Rating: 5.4/10
Reviews Counted: 165
Fresh: 61
Rotten: 104

Critics Consensus: Heavy on detail and melodrama but missing the spark from its remarkable real-life inspiration, The Fifth Estate mostly serves as a middling showcase for Benedict Cumberbatch's remarkable talent.

Average Rating: 5.6/10
Reviews Counted: 44
Fresh: 14
Rotten: 30

Critics Consensus: Heavy on detail and melodrama but missing the spark from its remarkable real-life inspiration, The Fifth Estate mostly serves as a middling showcase for Benedict Cumberbatch's remarkable talent.


Average Rating: 3/5
User Ratings: 18,115




Movie Info

Triggering our age of high-stakes secrecy, explosive news leaks and the trafficking of classified information, WikiLeaks forever changed the game. Now, in a dramatic thriller based on real events, "The Fifth Estate" reveals the quest to expose the deceptions and corruptions of power that turned an Internet upstart into the 21st century's most fiercely debated organization. The story begins as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his colleague Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Daniel … More

R (for language and some violence)
Documentary , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
Josh Singer , Daniel Domscheit-Berg , David Leigh , Luke Harding
In Theaters:
Jan 28, 2014
Box Office:
Walt Disney Pictures - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for The Fifth Estate

All Critics (165) | Top Critics (44) | Fresh (61) | Rotten (104)

As nervy and as excitable as the trade that it depicts.

Full Review… | October 21, 2013
New Yorker
Top Critic

The material covered in the production's 128 minutes is not only inherently non-cinematic but not remotely "thrilling," at least in the conventional sense.

Full Review… | October 21, 2013
Top Critic

The Fifth Estate is also as current as a news feed, filling in the disputed facts about Assange's life beyond the headlines and chronicling the revolution that has upended the media landscape in the last decade.

Full Review… | October 18, 2013
Fort Worth Star-Telegram/
Top Critic

Director Bill Condon delivers an intelligent, dynamic, character-centered drama.

Full Review… | October 18, 2013
Denver Post
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | October 18, 2013
Christian Science Monitor
Top Critic

"The Fifth Estate" feels unfortunately small and safe.

Full Review… | October 18, 2013
Top Critic

Benedict Cumberbatch's performance is the knockout, precise, conflicted, mysterioso, wily, his own charm alloyed with the Aussie oddness of Assange.

Full Review… | April 4, 2014

The film never seems to know what it wants to be, or where it is going with all of these gimmicks, gadgets and subplots. It ends up as a yawner, a thriller with no thrills, history without context.

Full Review… | March 24, 2014
Laramie Movie Scope

A great performance surrounded by a very bad movie.

Full Review… | February 9, 2014
Movie Mezzanine

The Fifth Estate is often guilty of spelling things out and over-simplifying matters, but it's absorbing in places and held together by two strong performances.

Full Review… | February 1, 2014
Flix Capacitor

[Blu-ray Review] "The Fifth Estate" is not a disaster—far from it—but it is understandable why it failed to capture an audience or much critical support.

Full Review… | January 27, 2014

It had the opportunity to dazzle us with one of the biggest news stories of the last few years, but it never goes into enough depth, plot or character-wise, to get us involved, and because of that it merely becomes a forgettable film that had potential.

Full Review… | January 27, 2014

Despite an impressive turn by star Benedict Cumberbatch it fails to deliver on its initial promise.

Full Review… | January 22, 2014
The Verge

Benedict Cumberbatch and Daniel Brühl do a fine job of drawing us into their characters, but because 'The Fifth Estate' is an uneven and sometimes confusing thriller, it's not enough.

Full Review… | January 21, 2014
Movie Metropolis

Nothing condescends to savvy cinemagoers quite like characters who directly articulate a film's subtext.

Full Review… | November 26, 2013

There's nothing in The Fifth Estate that will challenge opinions or give a fresh perspective on Assange and Wikileaks.

Full Review… | November 26, 2013
ABC Radio Brisbane

The film is no love letter to [Julian] Assange. If he was worried about being portrayed as an arrogant git, an Aussie larrikin with a neat turn-of-phrase and a questionable concept of conscience, his fears are well-founded.

Full Review… | November 14, 2013

Cumberbatch, rocking white, stringy locks and some alien-like dance moves, does a fine 'SNL' impersonation. But he's sinister, not ambiguous - a loathsome hypocrite bound to inspire hit pieces like this.

Full Review… | November 14, 2013

Perfectly serviceable - if far from subtle, like reading a Wikipedia page on CAPS LOCK.

Full Review… | November 14, 2013

This might play the saga as a psychodrama with a bit of Bourne and even 'bromance' and yet, nevertheless, it works, and Cumberbatch is as close as you'll get to Assange without being arrested.

Full Review… | November 13, 2013

A Wikileaks story that fails to match the drama of its real-life inspiration.

Full Review… | November 11, 2013
Concrete Playground

A well-acted but uneven take on recent events that feels strangely superfluous.

Full Review… | November 10, 2013
The Sun Herald

Cumberbatch is fetching as Assange, and he manages to sound convincingly similar; he also captures the mannerisms. But more importantly, he conveys the deadpan egotism and edgy self promotion, coupled with a fervent belief in his own messianic status

Full Review… | November 9, 2013
Urban Cinefile

It tries to pack in far too much material, but where The Fifth Estate is spectacularly successful is in leaving an impression of the character and duplicitous morals of WikiLeaks founder and self-hailed celebrity, Julian Assange

Full Review… | November 9, 2013
Urban Cinefile

The Fifth Estate is Woodward VS Bernstein.

Full Review… | November 6, 2013
2UE That Movie Show

a profound disappointment when it could have been instead wonderfully profound

Full Review… | November 3, 2013
Killer Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for The Fifth Estate

Everything you need or want to know about Julian Assange and WikiLeaks is documented thoroughly in Alex Gibney's We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks. If you want to know half of the story, complete with distracting special effects, unhelpful analogies and dodgy wigs then you should watch Bill Condon's The Fifth Estate. Benedict Cumberbatch proves he's not infallible (although no one noticed) and Daniel Brühl shows he's one of the best actors working today (again, no one seems to have noticed). It was interesting to see more from the Guardian's perspective but key people are left out of the story and key moments are ignored altogether. I do not think it is necessary to watch both films so i would recommend We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks only. Shame though, as the supporting cast of Laura Linney, Anthony Mackie, David Thewlis and Peter Capaldi is great.

Anthony Lawrie

Super Reviewer

Before this I really didn't know a lot about Wikileaks. I remember it being in the news, but honestly I didn't really care. This is the story(or at least Hollywood's version) of how it got started and essentially changed the way information is leaked to the masses. More than anything it's a portrait of Julian Assange(Benedict Cumberbatch) and how he is arrogant and pretty much an ass. More importantly the movie falls flat. It drags a lot and it's too jumbled up to be effective at anything it sets out to do. Cumberbatch is OK, but I've seen him in much better movies than this. Same with Daniel Bruhl, who was amazing in "Rush". It wants to be a techno thriller like "The Net", but ends up somewhere in the middle. I especially didn't care for the ending. The way it ends is just kind of like well that was stupid. SPOILER!

it's a little interview with Cumberbatch as Assange talking about a wikileaks movie(kind of), and it is just ridiculous. No one narrates the movie so it's not like a "this is my story", which honestly would have been better. But, I will say this, the movie does make me want to learn more about Wikileaks, so in that regard it is a success. I know there is a documentary out called "Wikileaks, we steal secrets", and after seeing this, I don't think I'm gonna put that off much longer. Anyway, I've seen much better and I'm not sure who this would be best suited for. You may like it, or you may hate it. Either way, let me know what you think about it. I thought(and hoped) for a better movie, but they can't all be winners now can they?

Everett Johnson
Everett Johnson

Super Reviewer

After watching "The Fifth Estate", I'm a little bit confused as to what the film is trying to accomplish. It apparently sets out to reveal secrets and expose deceptions, but there really is nothing new here. Just some tid-bits about Assange allegedly being a weirdo and behaving very self-important. But then, the debate between Daniel and the Guardian guy as well as the 'interview' Assange gives to the audience by the end of the film seem to contradict everything that the movie was going for. I suppose that the film may/will provoke debate but I think that if a film about Assange was being released I would like something with more depth to it.

There were several sub-plots that seemed unnecessary; like the girlfriend one and the one with actors Linney, Mackie, and Tucci about their supposed Lybian-informant Tarek who's life might be in peril because of the leaks. Tarek appropriate calls Linney's character after they've escaped Lybia and no answer is given as to what they should do next. Real fascinating story right there.

Despite its misgivings, I still enjoyed most of the film.

Wildaly M

Super Reviewer

You can't expose the world's secrets without exposing yourself.

Good Film! The film was not bad. It was sort of an attempt to make a Facebook style film about Wikileaks and although it nowhere measured up to the quality of "Social Network." My conclusion is, that, this film is a good example of the new way of being critical. Pretend to be fair and at the last minute, throw up a bunch of negative facts. I believe that combining the positive portrayal of the U.S. state department with the crazy portrayal of Assange, was neither fair nor accurate. History will probably judge this film as just another propaganda piece of the corrupt powers that be. If I were to write this film, I think it would have been much more interesting to concentrate on the incidents of human rights abuses rather than on the Assange himself. It would have also had the positive effect of encouraging, rather than discouraging whistle-blowers. This film does not seem to inspire anything.

The story begins as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his colleague Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Daniel Brühl) team up to become underground watchdogs of the privileged and powerful. On a shoestring, they create a platform that allows whistle-blowers to anonymously leak covert data, shining a light on the dark recesses of government secrets and corporate crimes. Soon, they are breaking more hard news than the world's most legendary media organizations combined. But when Assange and Berg gain access to the biggest trove of confidential intelligence documents in U.S. history, they battle each other and a defining question of our time: what are the costs of keeping secrets in a free society-and what are the costs of exposing them?

Manu Gino

Super Reviewer

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