On March 11, the Silk Road will be released in cinemas, a biopic about the creator of a world darknet website selling drugs, weapons and other illegal services. The picture was leaked to torrents a few weeks before the start of distribution, but this is far from the main problem of the film.
Ross Ulbricht (Nick Robinson), 27, preaches libertarianism and wants to save the world. In his opinion, any of our actions outside the government’s control strengthens the market and weakens the state. The hero often thinks about the human right to use drugs.
He is for the safe and anonymous purchase of “grass” or something stronger, because it will take people off the streets and give them not only freedom of choice, but also protection. No one will rob you or kill you in a dark alley in a creepy area if you order drugs online and the postman takes you right to the door.
Having considered all the details, Ross Ulbricht learns to program and learns the basics of working on the darknet through the Tor browser. In an underground network, where it is almost impossible to track someone, the hero decides to create an online store and openly sell drugs. And in order to protect buyers and guarantee their anonymity, he puts payments in bitcoins – an electronic currency that cannot be tracked either. This is how the path of Silk Road begins – the world’s largest Internet site with soft and hard drugs, weapons and various illegal services.
In parallel with this, a former employee of the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) and almost retired Rick Bowden (Jason Clarke) comes out of a psychiatric hospital after disrupting a months-long operation to capture a Mexican drug lord. They do not want to leave him in the department, so the former boss arranges for Rick in the cybercrime department.
Here he has a 26-year-old boss, everywhere the Internet and computers. And old Rick doesn’t know a damn thing about that. Until retirement nine months, so he is asked to sit quietly and not interfere with work. But Rick is trying to prove to these fucking millennials that years of operational experience is everything, so he grabs onto selling drugs through the recently launched darknet site Silk Road.
The original name of the “Asocial Network” is Silk Road, that is, the “Silk Road”. But the localizers saw, and not without reason, parallels with David Fincher’s “Social Network”, so they sensibly decided to give the tape just such a name. After all, fewer people will go to the Silk Road than to the Asocial Network. The latter is both more modern, and in the subject, and refers to Fincher’s tape, and also promises something forbidden, which means there will be an intrigue.
And the very personality of Ross Ulbricht is ambiguous, he is an unrecognized genius, dresses strangely, burns with his work and makes a million dollars a day. Isn’t it a parallel with Mark Zuckerberg? True, he did not sell drugs, but according to some, he did a much worse thing – he created the most popular social network in the world, Facebook.
The director of the film, Tiller Russell, has shot few feature films, but he knows a lot about documentary works. He has a couple of three serious projects, including four episodes of the documentary Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer and the film Operation Odessa, an incredible story of an attempt to sell a Soviet submarine to a Colombian drug lord, started by a Jewish emigrant from the USSR.
Apparently the director decided to combine business with pleasure and make a feature film based on a cool life story. True, for the sake of cinematography, many unnecessary and unnecessary details were added to it, but they are honestly warned about this at the very beginning.
The creators took not very popular young actors for the main roles, but just in case they enlisted the support of experienced Jason Clark. The star of Terminator Genisys and Planet of the Apes: Revolution got the bloated role of a policeman, who was added the tragedy of life’s circumstances and, for some reason, the struggle of Generation X and boomers against millennials.
His agent, Rick Bowden, clings to a profession where it has failed, and his daughter has developmental problems, so she needs a special school with a payment of $ 40,000 a year. There is no money, his career is over, and Rick clings to the remnants of his past life and becomes close to the informant Rayford (Darrell Britt-Gibson). Their relationship is evolving too quickly from a cop – an informant to a tough loser – admired sidekick.
Apparently, the director liked the antagonist more, because he wrote it out much better than Ross Ulbricht, the real main character. And although the plot forced the policeman to break the law, but for the good of the family, which means for the viewer he at the end turned from an ugly duck into a white swan.
But with Ross Ulbricht and actor Nick Robinson who played him, it turned out the other way around. At first he is cute and cocky, smart and adventurous. His parents do not understand him, he wants to save the world and invents Amazon on the darknet. What is not a hero for the modern generation? But then the guy scores on the girl and his best friend, thinks only about the site, and then goes to serious crimes. As a result, Ross’s character becomes a lost something (or even nothing), and Nick Robinson’s play goes into one plane.
As the hero turns into an antihero, so does the chemistry between character and actor. Perhaps there is a problem here and in a poorly written script that does not reveal its essence, or maybe all this makes it difficult to understand important details left behind the scenes. The viewer is shown Ross Ulbricht as the one-sided head of the online drug trade, because of which relatives and strangers suffer.
In my case, knowing the original story of Ross Ulbricht prevented a positive perception of the painting. I’ve written about him in a selection of the best technology documentaries. Therefore, I advise you to look exactly at the real investigation. Naturally, to a viewer not familiar with what actually happened, inconsistencies and a weak explanation of what is happening may not seem critical. But it will become even more difficult to understand this film.
Here, almost nothing is clear in the investigation, illogical explanations for the evidence are given, and a host of other mistakes are made that leave more questions. Without knowing the source, it will be difficult to understand the story. And we also need to monitor the development of the heroes’ relations and read the emotions from Ross’s face, because otherwise they cannot be understood. Therefore, the viewer has every chance to get confused in what is happening and sit with bewilderment on his face until the end of the film.
The story of the real Ross Ulbricht and Silk Road is much more epic and twisted than the film based on it. It is clear that they wanted to simplify it, because there are a lot of ambiguities and violations on the part of the authorities, and it was not Bowden that caught Ross, but the cop really stole Ulbricht’s money.
Life is often more interesting than any scenario. Our case is just such. Here it was necessary to take and shoot as it is, so that a slightly complex, but cool movie at the level of David Fincher’s “Social Network” came out. Anyone who is not afraid to make such an intellectual movie will become a part of the culture and may even get some good money.
Here they backtracked, so the history of the most controversial Internet genius of our time in the “Asocial Network” is simplified and leveled. The devils who are brought to the fore, and almost the main theme of the confrontation made an understandable, but long-worn clash of generations. And when this happens, it is better to turn to the original source, because a documentary picture can tighten much more, and any of the articles written on this topic reads no worse than a bestseller.
In the film there was such a phrase: “When you give people freedom, you do not know what they will do with it …”. So the viewer in this case also has the freedom of choice: watch this film, watch the documentary, or learn about Ross Ulbrecht on the Internet. What will you choose?