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'We Steal Secrets' is more exciting than most fictional Hollywood thrillers

'Secrets' centers on Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and Army private Bradley Manning.

By Peter RainerFilm critic / May 24, 2013

Julian Assange in a scene from the documentary, "We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks."

Focus World/AP

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The impressively prolific documentarian Alex Gibney takes up WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, in “We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks,” and the results are far more exciting than most Hollywood espionage thrillers. (Having said that, a movie is now in the works starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Assange.) Gibney gives almost equal weight to Bradley Manning, the US Army private with gender-identity issues who leaked voluminous classified documents to WikiLeaks.

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(The film includes a postscript on the outcome of his recent trial.) Gibney is both fair and unsparing: He chronicles Assange’s rapid ascent and notoriety, capped by Assange’s release of the US Apache helicopter kill video in Iraq, and delves into the Swedish rape allegations against him. Holed up in the Ecuadorean Consulate in England while seeking asylum, Assange did not directly participate in the documentary, but he’s amply represented by news and home movie footage. No one ever accused this covert operator of being camera-shy. Grade: A- (Unrated.)

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