Tiller Russell writes and directs ‘Silk Road,’ a true crime film about the rise and fall of Ross Ulbricht, who ran a drug ring on the dark web. It was released through Lionsgate.
Ross Ulbricht (Nick Robinson) is a young man with strong anti-government leanings. With the help of his girlfriend Julia Vie (Alexandra Shipp) and his friend Max (Daniel David Stewart), he sets up Silk Road, an anonymous dark net website to purchase drugs. He recruits Curtis Clark Green (Paul Walter Hauser) to help him run it. He gets noticed by disgraced DEA Agent Richard “Rick” Bowden (Jason Clarke), who seeks to get notoriety. He creates the username “Nob” and with the help of a confidential informant named Rayford (Darrell Britt-Gibson), he gains Ross’ trust. As tragedy starts coming from the website, Ross begins to doubt his purpose as he gets closer to Nob, forcing him to make more and more compromising decisions.
While I am unfamiliar with Ulbricht’s case, I am by no means an expert, so I will not compare it to the real thing other than to say that the two federal agents were combined into one Rick aka the Jurassic Narc. I will say, the movie has several good points. The plot is intriguing and interesting. It definitely pulls you in with the story of a project that went awry.
The acting in the film is really good. You watch as Ross goes from a young, obsessive idealist to a bitter criminal who makes compromises that conflict with his ideals. Likewise, Rick goes from wanting to keep his head down and coast to retirement to being obsessed with nabbing Ulbricht. Likewise, the rest of the cast does a good job of building around the two main characters. Though small, Hauser does an excellent job with his role.
Where the film drops the ball is as a “cat-and-mouse.” It tries to balance being a biopic with a true crime thriller, but it gets muddled from that perspective. It spends too much time trying to make you empathize with Ross when he was nothing more than a criminal scumbag masquerading as a do-gooder. On the flip side, it did not do enough time with Rick to make you feel bad for his family troubles. I think it would have been much better if it had not been so scattered.
Bottom line, Silk Road does have trouble balancing its genres, but it is smart and intriguing with its plot.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Strong foul language, Drug-related content, Some violence
FAVORITE QUOTES: I’ve decided to keep a journal about my experience running the site. I imagine that someday I may have a story written about my life and it would be a good idea to keep a detailed account of it.
Check out the trailer below:
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