We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks Review
If you had the access to hundreds of thousands of documents, full of secret information? What if that information was so important to you and your country, that you felt it needed to be public? What would you do? What could you do? WikiLeaks is a controversial website which prints government documents and material on its website. It protects its users so that anybody reading the website cannot find its publishers. Any dirt you can probably imagine, you can read about it on WikiLeaks.
"We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks" is a documentary which blueprints the history of the controversial website. We follow the website creator Julian Assange an Australian former-hacker who wanted to change the world. Some people refer to Assange as a information Messiah, while others see him as a terrorist who deserves to be put on trial. The documentary does not waste time choosing a side, which is a real plus. What we do learn from the documentary is what lead to Assange to create WikiLeaks, his collaborators, his triumphs, his failures, his controversy and where it all goes from here.
We learn early in the documentary that after 9/11, our government, as well as the governments of our allies were sharing much more information than ever before. This came with a price, of course with more information came more secrets. The government began keeping lots more information out of the public eye than ever before. This was all inspiration for Assange to create WikiLeaks. Although Assange was already hard at work prior to 9/11. He had a hand in the WANK worm attack on NASA in 1989. Also he uncovered stories about Keyan corruption, toxic-waste dumping and the Icelandic financial crisis. Its all handled with a keen style, what we learn is visually interesting as we uncover the early life of Assange.
The film's biggest concern is the WikiLeaks and it 2009-2010 leak of sensitive materials about the Iraqi and Afghanistan Wars. This information was given by Prvt. Manning, a very sad and disturbed young man who became responsible lots of information from the American military. He saw many atrocities which he felt needed to have light shed upon it. However, he was very conflicted for being in the military. What Assange does with Manning's info and what happens to Manning is the main storyline of the movie. It is handled very well and informatively. A great documentary makes its audience get wrapped up in its story, even it is very educational. This is one of those documentaries.
One thing I like is that the movie doesn't pick sides towards or against Assange. The documentary does not see him as a leftist or overly-conservative, it takes a very neutral stance which I feel elevates the material. Sometimes, documentaries, particularly political documentaries, tend to be very biased. This one does not make that mistake and it is strong overall. This documentary is only about the history of a website, and its pretty fair in its observations.
I also like how easily I get wrapped into the story its telling with its knowledge. Its also impressive how it turns Assange into a character. There are personal and criminal struggles Assange is still feeling the heat from right now, and how unknown outcomes still are circling some of his controversy is very contagious. Even though this is a documentary, it feels almost like a feature film, which I feel works to its benefit.
Later this year we will see "The Fifth Estate" starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Daniel Bruhl, which will also tackle the story about WikiLeaks. It is a fascinating website and this fascinating documentary really asks us to understand which governments choose to share with its people. That it doesn't matter whether you support the right or the left of the political spectrum, each side is guilty of hiding skeletons in their closet. Some people feel we should live in a information world. What do you think? This documentary will get your brain juices flowing, which I think is its greatest triumph.
FINAL GRADE: A