Filmed with the startling immediacy of unfolding history, Academy Award-winning director Alex Gibney details the creation of Julian Assange's controversial website, which facilitated the largest security breach in U.S. history. Hailed by some as a free-speech hero and others as a traitor and terrorist, the enigmatic Assange's rise and fall are paralleled with that of U.S. Soldier Bradley Manning, the brilliant, troubled young soldier who downloaded hundreds of thousands of documents from classified U.S. military and diplomatic servers.
While I’m sure the subject of WikiLeaks is one rife with documentary possibilities, this film doesn’t so much chronicle the creation and ultimate destruction of the internet behemoth but the rise and fall of its creator Julian Assange, an idealist corrupted by the effects of events he orchestrated and while that in itself is a valid area of discussion for a documentary, the film is called The Story of WikiLeaks.
While the story of Assange is inherently linked to that of WikiLeaks creation and its subsequent fall from grace, it doesn’t quite give you all the information, just the view of a man who as time went on became more isolated and increasingly paranoid. His view of WikiLeaks and how it all came crashing down proves to be unreliable as you find yourself wondering what the truth is in this mess of lies and half truths.
The film does try and emphasise the importance of the website, the people running it and how it has changed the world of today but it never really lands the point, the idea that this phenomenon has changed our inherent nature as a people is a half baked one at best as the film leaves you with more than ambiguity, it leaves you questioning everything you have just been shown as every person and organization touched by Assange and this incredible yet dangerous tool provides a different view of the debacle.
Ultimately the film becomes a tale of the victims left in WikiLeaks wake and its not a pretty sight as the heroes become villains and the real heroes are tucked away and treated like criminals. The film chastises the keeping of secrets and the fear that comes with so many of them but if this is what happens when they get out then why aren’t we happy it fortunately all came to an end.