With Cyberbunker: The Criminal Underworld, Netflix continues its streak of offering poorly made documentaries with a sensational tone and unremarkable filmmaking. Once again, a scandalous subject is filtered through the mouths of bland talking heads. The images look equivalent to Wikipedia texts, as they are more interested in pushing information down our throats than presenting themselves with a creative vision. Are all the directors given a reference book on how to make documentaries for the streaming service? Did Max Rainer and Kilian Lieb also take "inspiration" from such a manual? Since all these documentaries look the same, they seem to be made by hacks.
There is another, more serious problem with Cyberbunker: It's not engaging enough. The documentary focuses on the Cyberbunker built by Herman Johan Xennt. This bunker had servers that hosted illegal service providers on the Internet. One of the websites it hosted was known as Wall Street Market, an online drug store where you could find anything, including fentanyl. Xennt's servers offered privacy as well as a guarantee that they would be online no matter what the circumstances. Of course, Xennt had this disclaimer that said they would host any website except child pornography and terrorism-related, but that didn't stop people from setting up illegal websites using Xennt's servers.
When Xennt is asked about all this dark web stuff, he says he didn't know what people were doing with his servers. He also had another bunker that got damaged due to a fire, and there, it was found that he was responsible for hosting pornographic content. In that case, too, Xennt defended himself by stating he was unaware of the porn material. A sane individual will never see Xennt as innocent. Like a deranged cult leader, he talks about making the world a better place during his interview in the documentary's final portions. Xennt's colleagues describe him as a friendly and charismatic leader, and you notice that charm when you observe this hardcore criminal in the court footage. He has a gentle smile, which, when combined with his actions, paints him as a creepy psychopath.
Here is a man who hung out with the godfather of crime - George Mitchell. A man tells us that Xennt had an aura of visionary, and this is precisely how blind followers describe their (awful) bosses. But if you want a dose of disturbing thoughts, listen to Sven Olaf. He compares child pornography to a bank robbery by saying that if you click a photo of the latter and publish it in a newspaper, it's not a crime. An FBI agent rightly points out that the picture of the robbery will deliver news to the audience, while the intentions of a child pornographer are completely different. Sven talks about online freedom without considering what harm that freedom can do to others in the real world.
Despite concentrating on such an unsettling matter, Cyberbunker fails to evoke any sense of uneasiness. The facts are delivered blandly through faces looking towards the camera. The substance is devoid of style. Intriguing details are reduced to dull sentences. As per the credits, Cyberbunker is made by Max Rainer and Kilian Lieb, but it feels as if it could have been made by anyone. Most of these documentaries like to talk about interesting topics, and while watching them, you wish the filmmaker had only elevated the material with interesting stylistic choices.
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