The Fifth Estate
This is all very frustrating as a viewer, but furthermore, it's a huge missed opportunity. A film like this, about a hot-button story like this, should have provoked a lot of discussion about journalistic responsibility and privacy and government corruption and the changing media landscape and more. The Fifth Estate (and especially David Thewlis' closing monologue) seems to want to address all these things. But it's so confused about what it is and what it wants—and doesn't know how to do any of what it thinks it wants—that it can't be the spark that lights the gas.
Furthermore, it's worth wondering whether film (more or less a medium that lets you turn the excesses of TV up to 11) could ever accurately portray Assange. This is a man who thinks that TV and film are, by their very nature, flawed. Can the "fourth estate" critique the alleged fifth?
Perhaps the most damning critique of the film comes from within. During his final try-hard "inspirational" monologue, the Guardian reporter-character played by David Thewlis says to Daniel, "You should start where every good story starts: at the beginning."
It's awfully telling that The Fifth Estate opens in medias res.
Characters use occasional language like "s--t" and "d-mn"; there are a few instances of "f--k." Daniel and his girlfriend are interrupted before they can have sex, but things get a bit steamy. No nudity, though. Two characters are shot repeatedly in the chest—it isn't extremely gory, but it's shocking and visceral. There's some footage from wars and bombings, including brief footage from the 9-11 attacks.
Jackson Cuidon is a writer in New York City. You can follow him on his semi-annually updated Twitter account: @jxscott