So this movie sucked. A lot. It's a huge shame too because it has a great premise and a great cast. But then it goes and falls on its face in epic proportions. Honestly this movie is one of my worst movies of 2013. And I'm going to try to tell you why because that's what I'm here for! So let's dive into it shall we?
First, we should talk about what the movie does right. Benedict Cumberbatch and Daniel Bruhl are decent as the movies main protagonists. Neither are great, rather they are just somewhat good. There aren't that many movies out there that have put Cumberbatch squarely in the lead role like this one does. And he tries. You can tell that he really tries to make the best of his character, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. But the character is so poorly written that even he can't make it any better.
I'm already onto the bad by the way. So here's the problem with Julian: you are clearly meant to sympathize for him. This is very obvious. But here's the catch: he's a total asshole who is completely obsessed with his own ego. There's some weird back story that is clearly only in there for you to say, "Oh! He's an asshole but he's had a crappy life so it's ok." No! It doesn't work like that! Maybe if you are just treating other people like crap I can still sympathize if it's a well-written back story, but when the extent of someone being a jerk is a complete disregard of human life in order to fuel your own ego? You can't sympathize with that, no matter how bad a childhood that person may've had. It also doesn't help that the backstory is very poorly written as well.
Honestly this whole movie is poorly written. I had no idea what was going on half the time, or what characters were doing what. There was montage after montage of either Cumberbatch or Bruhl sitting behind a computer typing inhumanely fast and then dramatically lowering the screen on their laptop and proclaiming they just took down a government or a bank or something. Or a montage would be abruptly ended as some random person would walk in on them and they would quickly and (still) dramatically close their laptop so the random guy wouldn't know what they were doing. The movie was also overly-dramatic, if you couldn't tell. The big moment of WikiLeaks was the infamous War Files of 2010 (I think) that brought to light thousands of war documents. When these files (and cables, whatever they are) were given to WikiLeaks, a side story was brought in within the movie (starring Stanley Tucci, Laura Linney, and Anthony Mackie, by the way) to try to express the gravity of this situation to us the viewers. This side story culminated with those three people getting some random guy out of the country he was in. No backstory on this guy. Not even a quick montage to show off what he was doing before his whole life came crashing down. Nope. Just, "We gotta get this guy out! Phone call! GET OUT NOW! He leaves! YOU MADE IT? Oh thank God!" and then it's over. Riveting right?
Let me give you another example of how shallow this script is. So Bruhl's character has a girlfriend in the movie. It's a horribly-written romance from start to finish, but it culminates with one particularly horrible scene. So the two of them separate at one point. Not together. Let's remember that together: they are not an entity throughout the entire movie. It was a pretty obvious break-up to me. Complete with a heated argument and her storming out of his apartment. So, once they are separated, Bruhl gets frustrated with Cumberbatch over something and decides to leave him and where does he go? His ex-girlfriend's house. They say two or three meaningless lines at the door, and then THE VERY NEXT SHOT we see them post-sex. SERIOUSLY? No, "I'm sorry for how I treated you." from Bruhl or anything? Just....meaningless exposition and then straight to sex. Yep. That's what happened. So very shallow. Oh and there's this weird dream sequence that recurs throughout the movie that was also just so awkward. Gotta throw this in because it's a visual crutch to show us when something is happening with WikiLeaks. It's a metaphor of a website as a business office. I guess they are trying to make this movie easier to understand? I don't know. It didn't work because the problem with that is that there is quite a bit of Internet jargon and sitting behind computers as is, so those with little understanding of technology aren't going to understand this movie anyway. One metaphor is not going to make this movie easier to comprehend guys.
I hope I have adequately conveyed why this movie is terrible. Sure there's some good acting from the two leads, but there isn't anything else. Everything else, right down to the pacing of the movie, is all over the place. Bill Condon, the director, clearly has no idea what he's doing. He doesn't even know how to do something as simple as leave text that we the viewer must read on the screen long enough for us to actually, you know, read it. Maybe you'll be able to get past all of this and just enjoy the decent acting and the interesting premise, but probably not. Put this one way down on your list.
The Critique: Decent acting and an interesting premise fall flat on its face when the movie can't deliver anything else. Still waiting on a good story about the creation of WikiLeaks, that's for sure.
The Recommendation: If you like Cumberbatch, there might be enough here for you to get some enjoyment out of this train wreck of a movie. Otherwise, stay away.
The Verdict: 2.5/10 Basically Garbage