Young, affluent, and highly motivated, Ross Ulbricht has an ambitious goal: to launch the Internet’s first completely anonymous and unregulated marketplace. Based on the larger-than-life true events of Ulbricht’s life, Silk Road re-situates the story to the tune of a thriller when Ulbricht ends up the focus of a disreputable DEA agent and spurs an elaborate cat-and-mouse game between them. The men are polar opposites. Ross speaks enthusiastically about the possibilities his invention offers the world; Bowden, the agent, has to learn to abandon his street-smart approach while struggling through tutorials on how to use the Internet.
As the hunt continues, both men’s private lives begin to erode, causing them to cling to their jobs. Growing paranoia leads Ross to consider choices formerly unthinkable, and Bowden similarly finds himself in over his head, leading to the question: how far can idealism take you?—Joe Yanick
Tiller Russell is a Texas native who directed The Seven Five (Netflix) and Operation Odessa, which garnered rave reviews at SXSW before debuting on Showtime. His next limited-series documentaries, The Last Narc (Amazon), and The Night Stalker (Netflix) further explore Russell’s interest in power.