Billion Dollar Heist
Billion Dollar Heist is a documentary that tells the story of the Bangladesh Bank robbery that took place in 2016, during which a group of hackers managed to steal $81m from the institution and came very close to nabbing the titular billion dollars.
As well as giving a rundown of the event, Billion Dollar Heist spends a lot of time exploring the social and technical evolution of cybercrime itself, outlining the progression from bored teenagers making mischief for a laugh to elaborate, financially motivated schemes like the Bangladesh Bank robbery, and the ways that this change in motive and modus operandi has forced cybersecurity experts to change their perception of what technology is capable of.
The piece also exposes the ways that people can be engineered as easily as machines can, showing how the hackers were able to sidestep the high-tech security of the international banking systems by focusing on and exploiting simple human error. This intersection of technology and society is genuinely interesting stuff, and the documentary draws a good balance between comprehensively explaining the mechanics of the hacks without getting too bogged down in the details.
There’s also a decent amount of visual flare to spice up the science, with the film using several different genres and styles in its dramatisation of the heist. As well as live-action scenes shot in monochrome to provide a touch of noir flavouring, the documentary uses comic-style animation and even pixel art to break up the technical explanations and ensure a constantly engaging visual experience.
Billion Dollar Heist is a fascinating documentary, providing interesting insights into the world of hacking, and showing both the ways that technology has changed in a very short space of time and how that evolution has impacted our wider culture. It’s not the most mind-blowing piece of cinema, but it has a simple storytelling goal that it accomplishes with enough enthusiasm and style to make for a fairly compelling hour and 24 minutes.
Billion Dollar Heist is available to rent and own on 14th August 2023.
Watch the trailer for Billion Dollar Heist here: