In his new documentary, "We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks," Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney ("Taxi to the Dark Side") tries to construct a portrait of one of the most intriguing and confounding characters in recent global history and completely fails at the task.
Part of this is the fault of the subject, Julian Assange, the charismatic and enigmatic founder of the secret-spilling website WikiLeaks. Gibney did not interview Assange for the film, though he tried. Late in the movie, Gibney says negotiations stalled when Assange, who clearly hasn't seen the budget of the average independent film, asked for $1 million for an on-camera interview.
But Gibney's failure has more to do with the contradictory nature of what people have to say about Assange. These people include former colleagues, journalists who worked alongside him uncovering intelligence secrets, ex-officials of the U.S. government who decry those disclosures, and even one of the two women at the heart of the sexual-assault allegations that have driven Assange to seek asylum in Ecuador's London embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden.