THE NEW RADICAL (Sundance Version)

The New Radical
Directed by Adam Bhala Lough
New York Times Review
By Ken Jaworowski
Nov. 30, 2017

For such a cerebral documentary, “The New Radical” packs a wicked punch.

Cody Wilson, a self-described techno-anarchist, found himself in trouble with the American government after publishing designs online that could be used to create a gun with a 3-D printer. Stopping him raises thorny questions involving the First and Second Amendments, and introduces broad arguments over liberty and innovation.

Interviews with Mr. Wilson show him to be both astute and confounding, sometimes sounding like a cautious bookworm, other times like an undergrad drunk on Ayn Rand novels; he disdains corporate influence in politics, yet admires the alt-right movement.

Mr. Wilson’s interests don’t end with guns. He has since joined with Amir Taaki, an anarchist from England, to create Dark Wallet, an internet application that allows for clandestine financial transactions using bitcoin. Like Mr. Wilson, Mr. Taaki has brazen ideas about revolution.

Those ideas have been around for centuries. But technologies can now turn them into something frightening. Though it would have been valuable to see Mr. Wilson and Mr. Taaki challenged on their opinions, Adam Bhala Lough, the director, allows the men to make uncontested cases for their extremist and sometimes militant stances. Interviews with Julian Assange and mentions of George Orwell are sprinkled throughout, sowing a sense of paranoia.

It’s possible to fully, and vehemently, disagree with Mr. Wilson and Mr. Taaki yet still see their points. That can make “The New Radical” unsettling. It also makes it a film worth watching.

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