WE ARE LEGION: THE STORY OF THE HACKTIVISTS (Brian Knappenberger). 93 minutes. Some subtitles. Opens Friday (November 9). See listings. Rating: NNNN
Brian Knappenberger's film takes a nimble, multi-faceted look at the rise of tech-savvy activists like Anonymous, WikiLeaks and LulzSec and the formation of leaderless global protest organizations in the last decade or so.
Enabled by the web's connectivity and protected (mostly) by its anonymity, the hacktivists are a fluid and effective force - though, as Knappenberger points out, their inevitably self-righteous world view means they keep splintering as some members seize upon a new cause in which others aren't interested.
Knappenberger sees hacktivism as a overall positive - restoring the net to a convulsing Egypt during the Arab Spring, for example. But he also shows the personal cost of armchair action, as when a Nebraska man finds himself facing federal prison time for helping take down the Church of Scientology's website over one weekend in 2008.
Speaking of Scientology, this film will be a great help to anyone wondering why all those people in Guy Fawkes masks keep lining up in front of the organization's offices on Yonge.