Filmmaker Adam Bhala Lough’s documentary "The New Radical" takes you on a thrilling and thought-provoking exploration of the new frontier of technology-based revolution via the lens of eccentric millennial men ostensibly fighting for what they perceive as true, and yes dangerous, anti-state freedom.
Lough, most well-known for his documentary “The Carter,” focuses-in on two controversial subjects you'll either admire or loathe: Cody Wilson, who made the first 3D printable gun, and Amir Taaki, a British Iranian hacker embedded in the rise of international crypto-currency bitcoin.
Following Wilson and Taaki on their adventures, sprinkled with interviews from the subjects, Wikileaks’ Julian Assange, and other experts, the objective doc forces viewers to reevaluate their beliefs, particularly those on the right side of the aisle who might consider themselves libertarian or First and Second Amendment absolutists. Where do you draw the line — if you do at all — between freedom and anarchy? When does national security trump liberty?
The main focus of the film is Wilson, a 29-year-old self-styled crypto-anarchist who became a target of the federal government in 2013 when he dropped the blueprints for a 3D printable gun online, which were downloaded some 100,000 times before the feds forced him to remove the files. The Arkansas native, saturated in political philosophy, is currently fighting the State Department on First and Second Amendment grounds to continue with his file-sharing project, thus advancing his ideology.
Wilson soon connects with fellow anarchist Taaki, a child-like programming genius who cares little about societal rules and laws, to put it mildly. The duo end up collaborating on a devolving project called Dark Wallet, an anonymous online application that essentially enables money laundering with bitcoin. To give some context here: one of the main concerns with Dark Wallet is that Western adversaries, such as the Islamic State, could use the basically untraceable technology to financially back their terrorism. Taaki even openly admits to this possibility in the film.
Additionally, the doc does a fine job of capturing how these “new radicals” are hardened by the causes they've become slaves to. In Wilson, this is more evident; from a media-obsessed adolescent looking to piss you off, to a zealot loaded with responsibility, unable to quit this now deeply personal endeavor even if he wanted to. Taaki remains more boyish and Peter Pan-like, but is clearly changed from his confrontation with death in fighting ISIS in Rojava. (Yes, Taaki randomly goes off and fights in a real revolution against ISIS!) "In a very, I guess you could say jihadist way, I am not afraid," he says coldly.
And whether you find the subjects as admirable freedom fighters, self-aggrandizing contrarians, or impractical dream-chasers (not that Wilson or Taaki would care about your opinion of them), you’ll long to hear more.
The film might leave you with a renewed sense to fight for dangerous liberty, or fearful of what's to come, or perhaps, more likely, with an unsettling feeling in the pit of your stomach.
WATCH the trailer, below:
For ticket info, click here.