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The Fifth Estate Review Critics


Dave White Profile

CliffsLeaks Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 40

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    The Fifth Estate gives us an obsessive-compulsive messiah with a taste for martyrdom, and full-screen cascades of computer code in place of a coherent plot. Exhausting in a new way, the movie is a data dump devoid of drama.

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  • 50

    out of 100

    Variety Dennis Harvey

    Both the kindest and most damning thing you can say about The Fifth Estate is that it primarily hobbles itself by trying to cram in more context-needy material than any single drama should have to bear.

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  • 50

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter John DeFore

    The most compelling thing here by far is the film's vision of Assange, by all accounts a man of enormous self-regard and slippery ethics. Benedict Cumberbatch has the character in hand from the start.

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  • 63

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    The Fifth Estate doesn't seem to be presenting the full story. Instead, it's a fairly dull thriller about a hugely influential Internet phenomenon.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Richard Roeper

    At times The Fifth Estate seems as cutting-edge as the 21st century techno-info revolution it portrays. On other occasions... it’s almost like an expensive “Funny or Die” bit.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 15+

Confusing WikiLeaks docudrama mostly avoids iffy content.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that most kids will have little interest in The Fifth Estate, a docudrama about WikiLeaks, its founder Julian Assange, and the release of classified government documents. The film deals with complex issues such as whistleblowing, privacy rights, hacking, and media responsibility. Hand-held camerawork, edgy fast-paced editing, and dizzying split-screen shots of computer data further speed up and confuse these already sophisticated concepts. Aside from the topics addressed, the main issues that might concern parents are the occasional but strong language (including multiple uses of "f--k" and "s--t") and the scene where two men are shot point blank in their car and the camera lingers on blood. There's also some passionate kissing between a couple and the implication of sex.

  • Families can discuss the differences between docudramas and documentaries. How much truth do you think can be compromised in either type of film in order to make a movie entertaining or persuasive?
  • The source material is Daniel Berg's book "Inside WikiLeaks..." Why is important to know the origins of the film's point-of-view?
  • Find out more about the actual events depicted in this movie. What resources are available to you?

The good stuff
  • message true3

    Messages: Attempts to explore and balance the complex issue of transparency (the public's right to know) versus the necessity for government secrecy. Suggests that institutional corruption is common; it must be reported and the perpetrators held responsible for their actions. Questions the morality of hacking to secure crucial information. Contends that "absolute power corrupts absolutely."

  • rolemodels true3

    Role models: Looks at the motivations of both whistleblowers and the mainstream media to show positive outcomes of their efforts as well as the danger of obsession and self-interest. Central character is portrayed as having good intentions initially, but losing sight of right and wrong as his influence grows. The other character (on whose book the movie is based) is shown as the most moral character. Strives for some fairness in its depiction of government officials and media personnel.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence: Two men are killed by gunfire at point blank range while sitting in a car and the camera lingers on the bloody windshield. Video footage of soldiers killing civilians in a way that seems callous. Newsreel footage briefly shows rioting, police repression, beatings, effects of starvation. A tense series of scenes where it seems a man, woman, and baby might be in danger.

  • sex false2

    Sex: An adult couple is shown kissing, beginning to undress, engaging in moderate foreplay in several scenes. They are also seen lying in bed together after sex.

  • language false4

    Language: Some swearing and obscenities: numerous instances of "f--k," "s--t," "Goddamn," "hell." Also "a--hole" and "pr--k."

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: A shot of a McDonald's franchise; World of Warcraft game is mentioned, as is WIRED magazine. Various actual newspapers, banks, organizations are included as part of the story.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Adults are seen drinking various alcoholic beverages in numerous settings: party, restaurants, at home, while working. A man is driving as he swigs from a bottle which may contain beer.