I'm usually apprehensive about the Aaron Sorkin touch. His gloss turns greasy quick. But in The Fifth Estate you crave the wit and structure he brought to the mystery over who founded Facebook. As good as Cumberbatch is (by the last 20 minutes he's very good), the movie wants to do and say so much about the freedom of the press and the future of the media that it needs a more outsize Assange than Cumberbatch is willing to play.
The main problem is that real world story never gels. Cumberbatch gives a fine performance as the semi-Autistic Assange and has Oscar bait written all over his bleached out hair. As Assange’s right-hand man Daniel Domscheit-Berg, Daniel Brühl also does his best with the clunky script, but it’s an uphill battle. For a film that’s about one of the most dramatic and politically loaded events of the past decade, it feels remarkably hollow.
Jazzed up with woeful attempts to make chatrooms “cinematic,” The Fifth Estate deals with Assange in broad terms, skirting some of the color in this accountby Bill Keller and essentially relegating his Swedish legal troubles to a footnote... For a film ostensibly advocating openness and access,The Fifth Estate doesn’t have much faith in its audience.