For much of the 20th century, being a radical meant being left-wing. Starting in the '80s, with the rise of the loaded-for-bear Christian right and then the 1994 Republican Revolution, being a radical started to mean being right-wing. Whoever's out of fashion, in the minority, on the fringe is, by definition, radical. But that leaves out how sports, hip-hop, the consumer culture, and the Internet have all left their mark on radicalism. To be radical today isn't merely to be left-wing or right-wing. Listening to the ultimate underground rap is radical. Getting the right tattoo is radical. Silicon Valley is radical. Anthony Bourdain is radical. Our solipsistic billionaire president is radical. Ryan Seacrest is radical. (Okay, Ryan Seacrest is not radical. I just wanted to see if you were paying attention. But at some point he probably will be.) And the shrewd and, in many ways, reprehensible outlaw/guru weasels at the center of the intriguing, enraging documentary "The New Radical" are radical. Please, God save us from any more radicals.
The movie, which is very smartly directed by Adam Bhala Lough ("The Carter"), focuses on a pair of too-cool-for-school young men who have become self-styled generational icons of radical chic — though you could argue that spinning who they are into something larger is built into what this generation has been taught to do. Cody Wilson, born in 1988 in Little Rock, Arkansas, is the dude who invented the printable gun: that is, the gun you can download on a computer and print out, in waxy-looking white plastic, using a 3D printer. Amir Taaki, a British Iranian programmer, played a leading role in the rise of bitcoin, the digital currency that people like himself view as a threat to governments everywhere. Since then, he has put his skills to more scurrilous (excuse me, revolutionary) ends.