‘We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks’ is a mildly engrossing portrait of Julian Assange – a man who might have began his groundbreaking whistleblowing venture with the utmost sense of idealism, but was eventually ruined by his uncontrolled ego.
The movie does an admirable job of posing the question of whether his actions (and the actions of those who provided him with classified information) were patriotic in nature or actually harmful to the security of our country.
But the film’s lack of participation from Assange and his chief informant Bradley Manning shortchanges its potential, and keeps it from being anything more than a straightforward and slightly ordinary document of its subject.
The doc’s director is Alex Gibney, who has directed 6 documentaries in the past year alone. He’s a competent filmmaker, but I’ve never found his films particularly immersive. That’s because he doesn’t seem to be immersed in his own subjects, so how can the viewer be? Maybe if he wasn’t so preoccupied with other projects and consumed with keeping his fingers in so many pies at once, his films would actually pop with lasting relevance. (B)