A documentary like this is sure to get one’s political dander up, but there’s no doubt it does a fine job of laying out the Anonymous narrative from scratch. Laying out the timeline of the early seeds of hacking to explaining how 4chan and lolcats tie in to the culture of a group that eventually started affecting geopolitical events, WE ARE LEGION comes just short of fawning for the group, choosing instead to let the rough edges and warts of the movement remain self-evident. From nicely shot academic interviews to pixelated video chats with clumsily masked teenagers, you get a very wide range of perspectives. There’s equal time given to the philosophical blustering of utopian nerds as to the hyper-intellectualizing new media pundits, while news clips and politicians provide ample (usually fearful) counter-points to both. The result is a thorough rundown of the various causes, achievements, splinter-groups, and controversies that have surrounded groups like Anonymous and lulzsec, including some undeniably courageous and valuable acts of digital freedom fighting that have been directly tied to world-changing events.

At the end of We Are Legion you may still not like the braggart assholes in the Guy Fawkes masks, but you won’t be able to deny they’ve had a measurable affect on the world. With power and influence becoming increasingly polarized across the planet, it’s hard to think that isn’t to some degree a good thing. That said, interviews with the self-important, lulzy teenagers and semi-articulate hackers will be like nails on a chalkboard to those afraid of them snatching credit card numbers and affecting world politics.

WE ARE LEGION: The Story Of The Hacktivists is slickly put together, briskly paced, and an interesting watch for anyone who might not understand what I Can Haz Cheeseburger? had to do with the Arab Spring.

–Renn Brown


Director: Brian Knappenberger

Screenwriter: Brian Knappenberger

“WE ARE LEGION: The Story of the Hacktivists” takes us inside the world of Anonymous, the radical “hacktivist” collective that has redefined civil disobedience for the digital age. The film explores early hacktivist groups like Cult of the Dead Cow and Electronic Disturbance Theater, then moves to Anonymous’ raucous beginnings on the website 4chan.

Through interviews with current members, people recently returned from prison or facing trial, writers, academics, activists and major players in various “raids,” the documentary traces Anonymous’ evolution from merry pranksters to a full-blown movement with a global reach, the most transformative civil disobedience of our time.