The reviews for this documentary are all over the place. Reviewers who are firm advocates of WikiLeaks tend to over-exaggerate the film’s virtues, while those who find the organization’s actions reprehensible tend to hate it. For this reason, I tried to watch the film as an objective reviewer.
Some have called the film a sleeper and there are parts of the film that live up to that branding. These episodes occur mainly at the beginning of the film when scenes shift quickly and conversations are somewhat baffling and vapid. Some conversations seem to emerge without enough context to give them comprehensibility. It also seems to lack a coherent theme.
Assange emerges as an emotionally remote character who hides his true personality behind his dedication to WikiLeaks. He even states that what he does is more important than who he is. The only scene in which we get a glimpse into his repressed character is when he is interviewed by Lady Gaga, dressed in her Wicked-Witch-of-the West costume. Ms. Gaga, like most celebrities, tries to hide her insecurity behind false bravado and seemingly unfiltered, clumsy questions which tell us more about her than Assange. In a clear case of projection, she asks about his relationship to his parents, wherein Assange claimed his father was “abstract”.
We do get some glimpses into the life Assange lives within the Ecuadorean Embassy. We learn about his relationships with his team. We see what he does to pass the time and plan strategies, and we learn a few ways that the organization keeps itself protected from government intrusion. A pervading and probably justified paranoia surrounds everything they do. This look into daily life at Wikileaks may hold some interest for some viewers.
The latter half of the film is more interesting, especially when the topic turns to the DNC hacking. I only wish this were expanded more as it is more timely. It is at this point in the film that Assange gives more information on his view of the world. He talks about the Earth as being so interconnected that any action must be evaluated in a global context. It is an interesting an important viewpoint that should be considered. It is not simply “think globally, act locally”. It is closer to the idea that even a small local action may have global implications.
The film leaves many questions unanswered and, as a whole, doesn’t flow very well. It could have been better made. There is nothing compelling in it, meaning that a viewer may be tempted to stop watching the film entirely at certain points. There is no hook that makes us want to see how it ends. There are no compelling relationships and some issues seem unresolved that could easily have been. Still, a few scenes are definitely worth seeing. For those interested in the world of cyber security, political intrigue, and government surveillance, this documentary may be of interest. For the general public, however, except for a few scenes, it may simply be too dull. I’ll give it a 6 out of 10.
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