DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

GRINGO: THE DANGEROUS LIFE OF JOHN McAfee (director: Nanette Burstein; cinematographer: Robert Chappell ; editors: Lars Woodruffe, Matt Colbourn, Kenneth Levis; music: Dana Kaproff; cast: Allison Adonizio, Nanette BursteinJohn McAfee; Runtime: 100; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Chi-Young Park; Showtime; 2016)

"Chilling documentary on the American software anti-virus guru, John McAfee."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Nanette Burstein  ("American Teen"/"Going the Distance") directs this chilling documentary on the American software anti-virus guru, John McAfee, a computer engineer who in the early days of computers, in the '80s and '90s, was the first to provide users with protection against viruses and made a fortune before forced out of his company by unsatisfied investors with his rebel anti-corporation operation. John then bought a vast amount of land in the mountain region of Colorado and opened up a yoga retreat. That went bust in the recession of 2008 and John lost 90 million dollars, but still had 10 million. What followed was taking up residence in Belize, where he bought a beachfront property on the island of San Pedro. Things start getting weird, as the paranoid John grew more into the cult leader he imagined himself when playing guru in Colorado. In this poor backward country, with a high murder rate, he hired an army of armed felon security guards, kept a number of native teens as live-in girlfriends (whose sex life was of them defecating on his face), and hired an American research microbiologist, Allison Adonizio, to go into business with him to cultivate herbal medicines. When the researcher grew disillusioned with him and told him she wanted to leave, he drugged and raped her. She escaped back to the States, but when reporting the incident to the FBI was told they could do nothing because they had no jurisdiction in Belize.  

The filmmaker has limited email contact with John and interviews many of those who worked for him and some of his paid teen girlfriends, as we get a picture of how mentally unbalanced was the hedonist with a bad temper. John went into the jungle and bought property in a rough community with gangs, where he was the only white person, His thugs terrorized the community so he could in de facto rule the town. When a town resident burglarized his home, he was tortured to death by his security force. In both communities he bought off the police with lavish gifts. 

In 2012 John's American neighbor in San Pedro couldn't get him to control his ferocious guard dogs on the beach and he poisoned them. In retaliation John, we are led to believe,  paid one of his hired felon security men to kill him. John then sneaked out of Belize and fled to neighboring Guatemala, until deported to the States for illegal entry. The backward forensics of the Belize police couldn't make a case to extradite the rich man, and back in the states he incredibly reinvented himself as a respectable tech person with expertise knowledge in cyber-security. Unfazed by his criminal life, the narcissist ran for president and finished second in the 2016 presidential Libertarian primary.

The film opens with grainy police dashcam footage of John in 2015, as he's stopped in Florida for drunk driving and put in the police car for further questioning because he has three guns on him and is suspiciously carrying $4,000.

Too bad the Belize police didn't conduct as good an investigation as Burstein evidently did, because it's frightening to know this dangerous crazy is still free from the 4-year-old murder in Belize.

REVIEWED ON 2/16/2017       GRADE: B

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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