Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Negative Review: The Fifth Estate Sucks

Pictured: typical reaction to The Fifth Estate

The only thing leaking from The Fifth Estate is quality. To say that this movie is atrocious would be praising it – in fact, if you were actually so ambitious as to make that claim, the word would take you to court on defamation charges. It's that bad. It is unequivocally, bar none, the worst movie I have seen so far in 2013.

The movie opens interestingly enough, with what mostly everyone knows already: Assange has just published the infamous U.S. military and diplomatic documents, and the info-world is about to fall head over heels. Instead, however, the movie denies the viewer these reactions (and never ends up delivering them later on), skips back a few years to some irrelevant conference, then immediately goes into a montage to cheat the audience out of an exposition. When the movie decides there's been enough veering about and 2008-eqsue CGI, Benedict Cumberbatch takes the reigns and the movie stops trying to captivate.

Seriously. It's like the director decided he'd take the movie in a direction reflective of the main character's ego, or something. The Fifth Estate is seemingly obsessed with Julian Assange's character, yet never develops it beyond some very cursory peeks. We learn that he was troubled as a child, but not why it matters. We learn that Assange is a brilliant hacker, yet the entirety of his interface with computers in the movie consists of typing madly away, off camera. We learn that Assange is a manipulative asshole, yet the only context in which this has any meaning is his loss of friendship with his first mate, Daniel. 

Speaking of lost friendships, The Fifth Estate follows one of the most predictable plot archetypes of them all – there's a guy, he becomes a political and cultural personality, and then quickly falls into darkness and is condemned. I suppose we sort of get the first half, but the movie, as Cumberbatch acts, "takes [128] minutes and ends up saying nothing." There's just... nothing... nothing happens. There's some hacked metaphor going on about nonexistent volunteers and empty tables that the movie keeps revisiting. There's some dull, predictable plot line about Daniel's romantic woes as a result of his poor time management given his new obsession. There's some weird cameo by Stanley Tucci where he explains, in jargon, why the potential leak of the U.S. documents is a big deal. But none of these plot lines seem to be connected and none of them are interesting in and of themselves.

I find it hard to attack this movie. Assange's character claims that his site offers his leakers protection from such or any attacks – they remain anonymous. Well, The Fifth Estate, perhaps I can't fully articulate my distaste, because you are such a fucking mess, but I can still tell you this: PLEASE. Never again.

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