Saturday, 12 August 2017

Who am I (4 Stars)

"Who am I? I am Benjamin, and this is my story".

When Benjamin was growing up in Berlin he wanted to be a superhero. Why not? When I was a young boy I wanted to be a superhero as well. My imagination was based on the Marvel superheros created by Stan Lee. I'd still like to be a superhero today, but I've relegated this to my daydreams. When I close my eyes I fly through space at many times the speed of light. When I open my eyes my feet are firmly on the ground.

Benjamin was a failure in school and a failure in life. Nobody noticed that he existed, especially not the girls. After leaving school he embarked on the exciting career of a pizza delivery man. In his favour he does have one skill, though not a marketable one. He's a computer hacker.

By chance Benjamin meets a group of hackers, Max, Stephan and Paul. No last names. Last names are taboo in hacker circles. Even first names are closely guarded secrets, except to those you trust the most. Benjamin's online name is Whoami, written as one word. That's a cool name, but I think that my online name is better. I am Dancer.

Benjamin suggests that the four hackers give themselves a collective name so they can appear online as a team. They pick the name CLAY, an acronym for Clowns Laughing At You. Their hacks are on the level of practical jokes, such as displaying animated pictures mocking Hitler at the conference of a right extremist group.

More than anything else, CLAY wants to be taken seriously in the hacker community. There's a well known hacker called MRX whose respect they want to win. To do this they hack the server of the German secret service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst. Data is stolen and given to MRX as a present. This wins MRX's support, but it also draws the attention of European cybercrime experts, who think that CLAY is a threat to world security.

The film turns into a struggle between Benjamin and a Dutch special agent, Hanne Lindberg. She knows nothing about him, but he knows everything about her. After all, he's a hacker. If anything is stored anywhere on a computer he can find it.

This is an exciting thriller which ends with totally unexpected plot twists. In 2015 it was awarded the prize for Best German Film at the Bambi Film Awards. This has won the film international attention, and an American remake has already been announced. Please, please, don't let it be too bad.

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