Who am I – No system is safe [OT: Who am I – Kein System ist sicher] is a contemporary German thriller that already made waves beyond its homeland. It was screened in the Contemporary World Cinema section at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival and as the main film of German Spotlights at Newport Beach Film Festival.
Here is why I think Who am I is definitely better than the trailer suggests…
The story in short: Benjamin (Tom Schilling), a young German loner, computer nerd and talented hacker with a complicated family background, meets Max (Elyas M'Barek). The self-confident, über-cool Max is in every way the total opposite of the shy and reserved Benjamin.
Max introduces Benjamin to a gang of professional hackers (including Wotan Wilke Möhring) who is doing everything to become famous hackers on an international stage. Eager to impress his new friends and fit into the group, Benjamin overcomes his initial skepticism and eventually dives right into the world of hacking at its highest level.
But when the group is aiming for the really big fish, ie. Germany's Federal Intelligence Service, a lot of things go wrong and Benjamin gets into deep trouble… Don't be put off by the trailer though. The film is not as violent as it looks.
Filming took place in Berlin and Rostock, a city at the North-Eastern coast of Germany.
The fact that this topic is totally up-to-date is reflected in the hacker news reported earlier this month: Apparently, several computers of the German parliament (!) had been hacked with ease, among them even a computer in the office of Angela Merkel herself!
Tom Schilling is perfect for these kind of roles. The fragile and shy loner is that sort of character he's been selling really well for years. Even though he's also proved that he can be completely different, most recently by playing a merciless Nazi officer in Suite Française and The Women in Gold.
Fun fact: In the interview on the DVD, Schilling, who didn't even own a computer until a few years ago, said that he took a course in 10-finger-typing in order to prepare for this role. A good move I think. Just imagine a professional hacker who's searching for the letters on his keyboard before he starts his wild attack?
What the film teaches us is that the Internet is still full of security flaws. The tube carriage and masks work really well as visual metaphors for the anonymous virtual space. And all this really gets you thinking. PS: The film is actually not as bloody and violent as the trailer suggests!
My verdict: A fast-paced psycho ride with a surprise ending!
**** 4 out of 5 stars
What do you think of the film? Did it reflect the hacker scene well? Leave a comment below!