Have you finally broke down and subscribed to one of those identity protection services? I have, and I still wonder if I’m genuinely being protected. I don’t know, but this whole world of the Dark Web is fascinating to me and a perfect subject for film, such as Alan Ritchson’s cyber-thriller Dark Web: Cicada 3301.
Cicada 3301 is an internet society (or conspiracy) buried deep in the internet, living between innocuous lines of code in the apps we run and the images we look at. Cicada’s latest potential recruit is our hero, Connor Black (Jack Kesy). He’s a bartender but has the eye and mind of a top-notch computer hacker.
“Connor is taken in by the NSA and has to testify to all the events that happened…”
Thus far, Connor has managed to squander the majority of his life. He’s living paycheck to paycheck and about to be evicted from his apartment. Still, when one of the bar’s servers is stiffed on a tip, Connor grabs the person’s credit card number along with subtle information about him in a heated brawl. He hacks, dox, and financially ruins the man in mere minutes. All this gets the attention of Cicada and the NSA.
It’s here Dark Web: Cicada 3301 turns into a cyber-adventure in tracking down Cicada 3301. Think of it as a deep-state internet adventure. Connor, his best friend Avi (Ron Funches), and local librarian Gwen (Conor Leslie) move from one puzzle to the next while avoiding being discovered, hacked, or kidnapped by an unknown presence.
I’ll start with my biggest frustration with the movie. It’s not a serious story about the Dark Web. I wish that director Ritchson and co-writer Joshua Montcalm approached the conspiracy with existing facts (whether someone believes it or not). Instead, a thread that plays throughout is of this underground FISA trial. Connor is taken in by the NSA and has to testify about all the events that happened, which is the main story. I’m not too fond of the ultimate revelation of what’s behind Cicada 3301. I just don’t think you’re going to learn much about internet conspiracies in the end.
"…one action beat after another along with sharp and intelligent dialogue in between."