Monday 14 October 2013


Julian Assange's condemnation of this film, based on two books which, he claims, are hostile to him, has been widely reported (I'm assuming that he's watched the film) - as has his refusal to meet Benedict Cumberbatch, who portrays him.

I liked it. Frenetically-paced, it tells the story of Wikileaks from its inception right up to almost today - though Assange's ongoing self-sought sanctuary in London's Ecuadorian Embassy, and his reasons for being there, are not addressed in the body of the film and only mentioned in the film's final captions.
It's true that the rapid-fire, consecutive, short scenes doesn't give much scope for arguing the rights and wrongs of making the leaks, but all the same I found it quite an adrenalin-pumping tale (assisted by Carter Burwell's insistent-beat background score). It was also good to have the back story of some of the leaks (which most of us are familiar with), fleshed out a bit more, and I did learn a little.
I knew hardly anything at all of Assange's colleague, Daniel Bruhl, author of one of the contentious books (played capably by Daniel Domscheit-Berg) and didn't realise the extent to which the two of them were working in tandem (or is that perhaps Bruhl's own self-serving gloss?). It's only towards the very end of the film that we are shown their rupture of their partnership and what caused it.
Director Bill Condon keeps the action tight and fast. There's hardly a let-up in it - hardly.

The supporting British cast includes David Thewlis (whom we don't see enough of, these days) as a reporter for 'The Guardian' and Peter Capaldi (the new Doctor Who) as that newspaper's editor.
The main American contributors, both as senior White House staff, are Laura Linney, who's fast becoming a stalwart of largely better-than-average films, and who always seems to raise the standard - as well as Stanley Tucci, who's already been a stalwart for some time.

It's really impossible to say if Assange's denouncement of the film is justified, for who knows where the truth lies? - and is there an absolute truth anyway? Of course there isn't. All I can say that the treatment here of him and his cause is not unsympathetic while not being defiantly 'pro' either. Speaking for myself, although my heart is supportive of his cause (Yeah - go for it!) my head is rather more equivocal.

I'm surprised to see that the average rating on IMDb as at now is as low as 5.8, so clearly my enjoyment isn't shared by most. But that doesn't alter the fact that I left the cinema feeling well-satisfied at having expended time, money and effort on this entertainment.................................7


  1. Impressed. Good review
    I will make the effort to see this

    1. I think it might be one of those 'Marmite' films, J.G. All I can say is that it held my attention throughout, pleasurably.

  2. Replies
    1. Well, it pleased ME, Sol, but I'm just waiting for someone to riposte with a "What a load of bull!" comment.

  3. we saw this movie today! I thought it complex, and overall pessimistic (despite the lovely speeches at the end). I wondered how much was 'truthful'.
    I thought the German fellow was quite adorable; how shallow is this?

    1. Yes, the subject matter itself is complex and they obviously had to shave off a bit of the stories to fit it all in, which added to the melee.
      Pessimistic? To some extent, yes. Also a bit scary, but most astute observers of the news would probably have guessed that anyway without having seen this film.
      I might have been more attracted to the Daniel playing his namesake if he'd removed his spectacles as that feature often gets in the way for me (I'm ashamed to admit).
      But glad that, from what you say, that it didn't seem to be a total waste of time, and at least provided you with (further) food for thought.

  4. I think I enjoyed this slightly less than you (and Spo) did. I thought it was well done but, in the end, I felt Assange was not as fully explored as I'd hoped. Of course the amount of accurate information available may have been the limiting factor there.

    1. One of our most revered reviewers here thought that a weakness was that the film tried too studiously to walk a tightrope between portraying Assange as a hero or villain. I can see what he means but if it had come down strongly on ether side that too could have been seen as the film's flaw, depending on what one's own views were.
      I think in the time available they had no other choice but to use broad brush strokes because, as you suggest, the subject of computer espionage is a highly complex one.
      Though few could deny that it's also tremedously fascinating