Labeled a “true story” except for the parts director/writer Tiller Russell “made up or changed,” Silk Road could have, and should have, been a fascinating window into the dark web, contemporary drug trafficking, and cryptocurrency. Instead, it avoids the smooth, resilient, rich texture of silk and has the feel of a knock-off imitation that one could buy at Target.
The silk in Silk Road does not refer to a fabric, of course, but to the famed trade route that connected the East and West that began during the Han Dynasty – proof positive that the Chinese were involved in trade long before Mr. Trump tried to corner them into being fair about it.
However, what is fair and right is a theme that director Russell toys with throughout the movie but ultimately fears making. The script's timidity and long, dull sequences in which the main character stares bewildered at his computer screen make for a halting post movie conversation that pits libertarians against run-of-the-mill conservatives.
The Plodding Plot
The movie is based on the life and times of a young libertarian named Ross Ulbricht, who has a dream of changing the world. Freedom and liberty are his calling cards, so he creates a website that becomes known as the Amazon of drugs – and names it Silk Road. In short order, Ulbricht is up to his neck in trouble and orders the murder of not one but two of his compatriots. Now he has really screwed the pooch, and the audience knows that it’s only a matter of time before Ulbr...