Silk Road review – high-free account of the dark-web drugs emporium | Film

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Here’s an unthrilling, bland drama about the rise and fall of Ross Ulbricht, the mastermind behind the illegal online drug emporium Silk Road (described by the FBI as “the Amazon of drug sites”). Between 2011 and 2013, PhD dropout Ulbricht made millions of dollars in commissions from users on the dark web anonymously buying and selling drugs. Then he got busted.

If you consider how gripping David Fincher made a bunch of geeks in hoodies talking about algorithms look in The Social Network, the Ulbricht story – involving an FBI manhunt and allegations of murder-for-hire – should be a doddle. But watching Silk Road is a bit like rolling a joint only to find the leafy green substance you’ve been sold is oregano. The highs just don’t come.

It starts in 2013, with the feds swooping on 29-year-old Ulbricht (an insipid performance from Nick Robinson) at a San Francisco library. In flashback, he emerges as an unlikely Silicon Valley founder. He ticks some of the dotcom boxes (flip-flops, standup desk, rooftop yoga, breathtaking arrogance), but – unusually – he is a rightwinger. The film’s voiceover borrows from blogs he posted on Silk Road spouting his antigovernment libertarian ideals. Director Tiller Russell is clearly team Ulbricht, and a needy tone creeps into the script; it desperately wants us to like Ulbricht, even when he’s plotting to bump off an employee-turned-informant.

Meanwhile, Jason Clarke’s role as a drug enforcement officer falls back on stereotypes of knucklehead, bash-down-the-door cops. He plays Rick Bowden, who gets reassigned to cybercrime (after a stint in rehab) to serve out his last nine months on the job behind a desk. But what do you know, his good old-fashioned police work reaches places that detectives with master’s from MIT can’t. “I’ve been locking up bad guys since before you started shaving your balls,” he growls at his boss. Maybe kingpins aren’t what they used to be. Perhaps millennials have taken the excitement out of organised crime. You won’t find much in this movie.

Silk Road is released on 22 March on digital platforms.

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Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Silk Road review – high-free account of the dark-web drugs emporium | Film

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