Publishing secrets

The Fifth Estate DreamWorks Rating: 14A 128 minutes

Before there was Edward Snowden there was Julian Assange. As we learn in The Fifth Estate, he’s the man who started WikiLeaks in 2006, an Internet site for whistleblowers and anonymous news sources. He is well played by Benedict Cumberbatch as a man who will stop at nothing to fulfill his obsession about freedom of information. Or maybe just to make himself famous.

The movie tries to cover both sides of the man, who realizes the Internet can publish vast amounts of information. More traditional media, including well-established newspapers, show themselves eager to publish this information too. The problem is that some of the information includes hidden documents from companies and governments that reveals secrets, embarassing incidents, and even result in the loss of life. Not surprisingly, most companies and governments are very unhappy about this.

Most of the reviews of the movie are not kind, and admittedly, the script is muddled and tries to work too much in. Occasionally, it is even boring. But, mostly it is an intelligent and fascinating look at how modern technology is changing our world, and making it very hard for any person, company or government to keep a secret.

The 42-year-old Australian hacker and journalist is currently enjoying diplomatic asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, trying to avoid a Swedish arrest warrant for sexual assault. He says it’s merely an excuse to get him extradited to the United States where he would be tried for publishing military and diplomatic secret information on WikiLeaks.

Rating: three deer out of five

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Alf Cryderman is a Red Deer freelance writer and old movie buff.