Julian Assange. Friend or foe? Some will look at you doe eyed and speak with almost cult-like conviction about a modern day Robin Hood who steals secrets from the empowered and empowers the masses with truth. Others will spit his name alongside allegations of inhumane behaviour and rape. But what is the truth of Julian Assange? Who is this white haired mousey-looking man so frequently plastered over our news broadcasts and what are the implications of his transparency website Wikileaks?

In We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks Oscar-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney traces the story of Julian Assange from long-haired student cyber hacker to facilitator of the largest security breach in US history. With a pace that is captivating rather than sensationalist, Gibney reconstructs the events that lead to Assange’s release of sensitive classified Army and State documents through major newspapers and on his controversial website, Wikileaks.

Running parallel to Assange’s narrative is the story of Bradley Manning, the often forgotten young intelligence analyst who provided the classified documents. Stationed on an army base outside of Baghdad, Manning’s isolation and turmoil over the events he has witnessed is revealed through harrowing transcripts of his online conversations with internet hacker, Adrian Lamo.

Far from being a Michael Moore-like ‘good cop, bad cop’ portrayal of Assange and the Wikileaks story, the film is in fact much more disconcerting. It presents an array of interviews, often with conflicting opinions, that leaves the viewer with huge questions that go left unanswered. We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks moves with the intensity of a spy thriller and tackles the issues of morality and privacy that we all engage every time we turn on a computer.

4/5 stars


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