With WikiLeaks back in the spotlight thanks to Edward Snowden — not to mention Alex Gibney’s insightful new documentary, We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks — a new drama, The Fifth Estate, looks set to capitalise on this renewed interest with an awards season release set. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange and Daniel Bruhl as Daniel Domscheit-Berg, the film follows the explosive rise of WikiLeaks and the eventual falling out between its two founders. What’s not clear in this first trailer is to what extent it will explore Assange’s sexual assault charges and how sympathetic or critical it will be towards the divisive figurehead. Cumberbatch certainly looks and sounds the part in what we see here, and he is supported by a strong ensemble — including Anthony Mackie, David Thewlis, Alicia Vikander, Peter Capaldi, Carice van Houten, Dan Stevens, Stanley Tucci and Laura Linney — but there seems to be little on offer besides a well-acted, conventional (almost TV-style) account of a small-scale story many of us already know. Add to that the fact that director Bill Condon is coming off an awful stretch of films (Dreamgirls, Twilight), and I’m not convinced that there is anything particularly essential about this project, especially when the real life story has just entered a fascinating new chapter that is developing by the day.
The Fifth Estate opens October 18 in the US. Watch the first trailer below.