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on June 8, 2013
Other than seeing the name "WikiLeaks" in news headlines, I previously knew nothing about it. The idea of a "true story" documentary about it was very intriguing to me. As a documentary, it is entertaining, captivating, and left me wanting more.

I went to WikiLeaks.org and found they had posted an annotated transcript of the movie. To my disappointment, the annotations pointed out "The film is filled with factual errors and speculation..." and provided links to all the sources to the contrary facts.

WikiLeaks also states "Neither Julian Assange nor anyone associated with WikiLeaks agreed to participate in this film. Any footage of Assange or WikiLeaks' staff was taken from stock footage. WikiLeaks has, however, co-operated with a film by respected Academy Award-nominated film- maker Laura Poitras, which will be out later this year. Another film, co-produced with Ken Loach's 16 Films, will be released shortly".

After reading the annotations, I felt the film makers had created a "reality TV" style of movie in which they influenced much of the story to their own needs, rather than the truth. You can see the irony in all of this considering the themes of truth and transparency. You could justifiably argue that WikiLeaks is trying to paint themselves in a better light as compared to how the movie presents them. But, it's hard to argue with all the sources WikiLeaks has provided.

As strange as it sounds, I still recommend the movie. But... watch it with the annotated WikiLeaks version of the script to compare and contrast. I believe the truth lies somewhere in between.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon September 18, 2013
We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks is a mixed bag at best. On the plus side, We Steal Secrets is brilliantly crafted, well-filmed and edited, and fast-paced and as exciting as a Hollywood thriller. On the negative side, the director clearly had a personal vendetta against Assange by the end, giving too much light to fishy stories of assault in Sweden and his melancholy time holed up in various safe houses.

I have no idea why Alex Gibney, obviously a fine director, chose such obviously one-sided sources. We mostly hear from outcasts like Daniel Domscheit-Berg and other "former" WikiLeaks supporters, and too much screentime is given to some extremely questionable stories from the woman Assange allegedly sexually assaulted. Neither Bradley Manning nor Julian Assange were directly interviewed, which is obviously a huge blow to the film. We Steal Secrets starts out hopeful and mysterious, detailing the huge leaks perpetrated by conflicted soldier Bradley Manning, and the rise of Wikileaks - the triumphant exposures of heinous war crimes, lies, and secrets swept under the rug by various countries and organizations. Wikileaks gave us the truth on the Iraqi War and the War on Terror that no one else would. But the documentary tries to paint it, AND Assange (which I find heavily ironic since We Steal Secrets is against those who targeted Assange in person) as a controlling, paranoid, suspicious bunch of wierdos.

Look, I'm NOT saying to paint Assange as a white knight in shining armor. He's a human being, full of faults and shortcomings, doubts and weaknesses. He's also one of the great visionaries of our time: a controversial and engimatic figure that dared to show us the secrets that our governments wouldn't. Along with whistleblowers like Manning and now, Edward Snowden, and organizations such as The Pirate Party and Anonymous, these individuals seek a more transparent, honest, and safer world. Thomas Jefferson said, "A government afraid of it's people is democracy. A people afraid of their government is a tyranny."

When you look at it that way, WikiLeaks is a fight against tyranny. Freedom of speech, press, movement, and belief are untouchable rights of every human being. We must fight against tyranny alongside them. Long live sites like Wikileaks!

In conclusion, We Steal Secrets is fascinating and provocative, but also biased and not as insightful as it might hope. Seek the truth out for yourself to make your own opinions, but this is in NO way a bad documentary, and I rather enjoyed it! A very solid 3 stars!
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on June 14, 2013
On the good news side, "We Steal Secrets" is fast-paced, engaging and entertaining. It raises some interesting questions -- though more so about the nature of hero worship than about Wikileaks, and that is its downfall. There are so many huge, open questions about Wikileaks, about its ethics and its ongoing impact on the world and this doc really only scrapes that surface, preferring instead to spend its precious time on the prurient stuff about gender dysphoria and broken condoms.

To some degree, Alex Gibney's ability to tell a fully fleshed-out story was limited by who he had access to -- not Assange, not Manning and not anyone who has a current relationship with either of them. One can argue that this was the fault of Assange, who chose not to participate in this film for whatever reason (he tells a different story from Gibney, and there's no way to know what really happened there), or one can argue that Gibney rushed a film that should have taken a more painstaking and journalistic approach, perhaps in order to be first off the blocks.

Which brings me to the bad news side. This really isn't strong journalism. I was surprised to see someone of Gibney's caliber suddenly tossing in a line about a dictator receiving secret Wikileaks cables that were then used to oppress his people -- WITHOUT providing any more info on something so obviously titillating. Gibney doesn't mention who the dictator is, what country this occurred in, who or what the source of this seemingly explosive story is, or what made these particular cables any different from the thousands of cables the film tells us were freely available to anyone on the Wikileaks website. If there was a story there, it was incumbent upon Gibney to research it thoroughly and give the audience the facts. If he wasn't able to do that, he shouldn't have tossed it in just to rouse unsubstantiated outrage.

Similarly, I was disappointed in the coverage of the whole Lamo affair. Granted, this could probably make a film in itself, but having read a bit about what went on between him and Manning, it seemed that Gibney chose to only scratch the surface. Anyone can see from Lamo's interviews that he's not the easiest person to comprehend or read, yet little that he says is investigated for truth.

We also get a kind of kooky sequence with Assange's alleged rape victim in a distractingly bad wig and false eyelashes, even though we are also shown multiple images of what she really looks like (albeit with her eyes blacked out). It might have been useful to talk about the extremely broad rape laws in Sweden at this point, since they differ significantly from what most Americans think of as a rape charge, but this was not done.

The film also suggests that Assange's paranoia keeps him holed up in the Ecuadoran embassy rather than any threat from those who would like to see him prosecuted. This may or may not be the case, but he doesn't really build it persuasively, or talk with any pertinent people in (or knowledgable of) the U.S. government about their current stances on Assange.

Most of all, the film seemed to be working up, ever so energetically, to a dark and cynical point. "No help will come to save us," Gibney quotes Carl Sagan at the end, and he seems to suggest that whatever Assange and Manning did was futile, a cry in the dark for attention that grabbed the world's hyperactive mind for a moment, then imploded into a giant mess. That is one interpretation of what happened, of course, but I'd welcome a more nuanced and investigative one.
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on September 15, 2013
Your feelings toward Julian Assange and Chelsea (still officially Bradley as long as she is imprisoned by US Army) Manning are, of course, determined by your politics. Mr. Assange may have a "difficult" personality, but this reviewer finds the ACTIONS of these individuals, who are the focus of this documentary, thoroughly admirable. The film was completed before anyone had heard of Edward Snowden, whose revelations about the extent of government spying on US citizens have boosted the self-esteem of paranoids everywhere. Mr. Assange's activities are, of necessity, highly secretive of course, but we are able to learn something about his background and how he operates. Many still photos of Manning on duty in the Iraq theater of ops are displayed. BTW, the phrase "We steal secrets" is taken from an on-camera interview with a former NSA/CIA chieftain, simply describing what those agencies do for a living. It's well known that the US even spies on its "allies," and vice versa. This chap is one of the defenders of the Established Order who are given time in the film; I guess this is called "balanced reporting." Their presence at least gave me a few good laughs. Some former colleagues of Assange air their grievances against him. Even the hacker turned snitch who reported Manning to the Army gets a chance to shed a (crocodile?) tear of regret.

I maintain that Alex Gibney is one of the best documentarians working in film today. His "Taxi To The Dark Side," about what happened to one individual in Afghanistan who was accused of aiding Osama bin-Laden, remains in my view one of the best and most important documentaries of the past decade. "We Steal Secrets" isn't quite on that level but certainly worth checking out. Long live the resistance to Big Brother!!
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on March 7, 2014
I have been suspicious of the huge extant of government secrecy for many years. This confirms my opinion the government uses secrecy to conceal wrong doing rather to protect the people of the US. I sent Wiki-leaks money and GAP money after watching this. I used to be a conservative Republican, although George Bush II already had cured me of that ailment. Julian Assange and Edward Snowden are heroes for sticking their necks out to expose unethical and dangerous policies.
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on July 1, 2013
This is pro-government propaganda - NOT a documentary. Find the director, Alex Gibney, on Twitter and ask him "Who funded the film?" He'll pretend it's not important, but when it comes to so-called documentaries, it's the most important part. Save your money for an actual documentary if that's what you're into.
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on November 8, 2013
This documentary is totally engrossing if for no other reason than as a study in contrasts between Assange and Manning.

It's so complicated and multi-layered (and long) that I recommend you break it up over a few days in order to digest it all.

Amazing work.
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on July 19, 2014
Great story about Wikileaks and how US, Euro, Asian, African combined govt tactics have been used to suppress and subvert facts that many politicians and govts have been hiding from people all over the world. Whether you agree or not with Assange's ideas, the fact that we're now finding out how criminal our own governments are against the supposed free nations/people of the world should be an eye opener for those who prefer to duck there head in the sand and expect govt protection at no cost to your privacy, or willing to give away everyone else's privacy for their own gain.
In a world where stories last only a day or two anymore before they become boring repetitive attention grabbers (entirely overplayed by the media for way long), it's refreshing to see investigative journalism and hard work to inform people is not left in bureaucratically run news organizations who are told to pick and choose what stories to run.
It should be a shameful embarrassment to those who think they live in a free society and turn their heads because their "beer and bassboat" aren't being taken yet.
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VINE VOICEon June 16, 2013
I imagined this film would be interesting because it is directed and produced by Alex Gibney, whose impressive body of work includes TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE and ENRON: THE SMARTEST GUYS IN THE ROOM. What I did not expect was one of the most amazing and informative documentaries I have ever seen!

I've always been a bit conflicted about Julian Assange because on the one hand I feel his passion for exposing the wrongdoings and hypocrisy of governments and corporations is a noble undertaking that ultimately benefits the little guy and woman (who by comparison are specks of sand next to the big and powerful of our society). But another part of me feels Assange got so carried away with the power he attained through his Wikileaks website that he became many of the things he so ardently claimed to abhor. This documentary examines that dichotomy and more with the precision of a surgeon's scalpel. You may not walk away from it with a different view of Assange or his site, but I guarantee you'll be more informed.

Even more interesting in this film than the story of Julian Assange is the tale of Bradley Manning. There were times during the Manning segments that my mouth hung open in utter shock. What a troubled and terribly tragic figure Manning is! I have no doubt he was motivated by good intentions when he provided so many secret documents to Wikileaks, but there's also no doubt those intentions were deeply muddled by profound inner turmoil. My heart sank for him. Others of you may disagree with me and respond very differently.

I strongly suggest you watch this film, particularly in light of Edward Snowden, the newest whistleblower emerging on the scene. I give WE STEAL SECRETS the highest possible rating: something I rarely do. It's just that good!!
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on September 7, 2013
Very interesting movie if you enjoy documentaries. It goes more in depth, and I learned a lot about the wikileaks/ Bradley Manning story, which I thought I was pretty up to date on. It a pretty lively movie, so if you enjoy being educated, then definitely give this one a try.
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