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Film Review: The New Radical Shows The Lines Between Hero And Villain

The New Radical Synopsis: Making a printable gun landed Cody Wilson on the U.S. government’s watchlist. Together with British programmer Amir Taaki, they founded Dark Wallet, a Bitcoin app that allows its users to “go dark.” But Dark Wallet was more than an app, it was a way of expressing their ideals valuing human freedoms over controlling governments. For crypto-anarchists, ensuring freedom of information and challenging economic structures are the best way to hold truth to power. But taking on the government means you don’t always get to go home. 

Directed by y Adam Bhala Lough, The New Radical follows Cody Wilson, creator of the 3-D printable gun, and Amir Taaki, lead developer of BitCoin. The film is an opus to a grand truth; the future is cyber and it is HERE! Thus, in the cyber-world, these two young guys have deemed themselves “radicals” against global governments that put idealistic fronts for their more individualized profits/illicitness going on in the back. Thus, these men like other intelligent, unemployed guys with hate for institutions that reject their minds and power, have decided to revolt against “the system”.

Are you against a system or a counter system? Here lies the difference for me. Every revolution eventually becomes an institution, which makes me wonder if an idea dies when it becomes reality. Maybe, we are addicted to chasing freedom, but never manage to make her real because it is not a question of whether we can as much as whether we want to. As Cody and Amir proudly boasting their intelligence for almost 2 hours, you see these are men attracted to mischief and addicted to the shock and awe their moves garner. Although they present themselves as “amoral”, this is far from the truth. Yes, they believe that information should be free, and that it is in chaos that order is strangely born; not in these “liquidated democracies” where we all act like we are all free, but our health is, literally, put up for vote by a few hands. Yet, their morality lies in symbolism, and the idea that to be bigger than yourself is to be free. They are willing to sacrifice themselves for the “big ideas” they have drawn from their minds and history. After all, news cycles and history textbooks are literally based on the aggrandizing of every act of violence that has stemmed from humanity.

History books are divided according the years of war and systemic self-destruction humanity has placed on itself, and do not even enter the full details of such acts so as not to ignite or reveal undercurrents of valid rage, i.e Native Americans, in hopes to maintain/ignore certain oppressions. I bring this up because it is no wonder that Amir and Cody believe that a revolution is needed and a reckoning is coming. The world has entered a cycle of self-fulfilling prophecy when it comes to violence. After awhile, if you keep calling yourself ugly, you become it, and we have been calling ourselves ugly for A LONG TIME. Thus, I oddly felt like Cody, Amir, and even Julian Assange, whom is interviewed throughout the film, were mirrors of the same, core issue, and, inadvertently explain why the lines between hero and villain become blurred. If you think you are the answer, then you are the problem. If you think you have to go beyond yourself to be free, then you are a prisoner. And if you think that you are the salvation of people, there is a 99% chance you are the oppressor. In essence, are these men against the system, or a rising counter-system bent to replace it and destined to repeat its same cruelties? Sure, they are based in the cyber world, but from hacking to cyber-bullying, humanity has still managed to turn a great, positive thing for itself, the internet, into a destroyer of itself. Thus, in the mere fact that Cody and Amir believe they have to go beyond themselves to be powerful, they open themselves up to be as detrimental to “the people” they wish to free from the institutions that also act and believe they are demagogic. In other words, if you play the Devil’s game better than the Devil, can you really call yourself God?

Towards the end of the film, both Amir and Cody seem slightly worn from the backlash/ fighting they have had to face, which brings up my next, inspired question from The New Radical; can a strong mind truly help others if it does not have a strong heart? Of course, Cody, in particular, would remark on the over-eagerness of people to see his humanity. Yet, the key to a true radical is his humanity, which is why the truest ones always fall. From Che Guevara to Martin Luthor King Jr, a revolutionary knows they will not see the end, nor do they believe they are “the beginning”. They became symbols that surpassed time, as an entity, because they never lived their lives according to it, but these men, Cody, Amir, and Julian, are defined by it. Hence, you are left wondering if they are “the change” they, at least, think they are?  The New Radical comes out on December 1, and I do not know if you will like, love, dislike, or hate it. Yet, I know, 100%, you will talk, think, and grow from it, which is always refreshing.