Julian Assange has good reason to distrust governments and the mainstream media.
But by the looks of the first trailer for The Fifth Estate, the new thriller about Wikileaks, the controversial whistleblower website he founded, Benedict Cumberbatch appears to have done him justice on the big screen.
Directed by Bill Condon, The Fifth Estate chronicles the true story of how the hacker turned journalist shook the world after Wikileaks' publication of classified information given to it by anonymous citizens exposed corruption and wrongdoing among the powerful.
"Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. But if you give him a mask, he will tell you the truth," Cumberbatch as Assange says in the teaser. "If we can find one moral man, one whistleblower, someone willing to expose secrets, that man can topple the most oppressive of regimes."
Of course, as those who've been following Wikileaks' travails know, the news-leaking organization helped uncover fraud at an Icelandic bank just before the collapse of the country's banking sector; posted a classified video of a 2007 airstrike in Baghdad, Iraq, showing the deaths of two Reuters cameramen by American forces; and exposed over 90,000 diplomatic cables in what was one of the largest leaks of its kind in U.S. government history.
"He's not a journalist. He's a threat to national security," argues one government official played by Stanley Tucci.
Alas, the trailer shows that despite initially garnering the support of major newspapers like The New York Times and The Guardian, Assange's rigid determination to make the world a more transparent, democratic place free of secrets became complicated by his own ego.
Hailed as both a hero and a traitor, the Aussie native's behavior eventually alienated some of his closest associates. Those include Daniel Domscheit-Berg, played by Daniel Brühl, who wrote the book Inside Wikileaks: My Time With Julian Assange at the World's Most Dangerous Website, upon which the movie is partly based.
Assange recently told students at Oxford University via video link that he read a copy of the screenplay and called it "massive propaganda attack," though he did exchange emails with Cumberbatch about the project.
Condon, however, insists the flick attempts to offer a balanced, more nuanced portrait of the Wikileaks mastermind.
"What you want to try to do is try to understand him," the helmer told The Huffington Post. "You're trying to burrow deep into who those people are."
The Fifth Estate, which costars Laura Linney, Anthony Mackie and Carice van Houten, hits theaters on Oct. 11.