Gringo Digs Deep into John McAfee’s Heart of Darkness
There’s a scene early in Nanette Burstein’s documentary Gringo: The Dangerous Life of John McAfee where the antivirus-pioneer-turned-fugitive-turned-presidential-candidate rides his boat down a river in the jungles of Belize and tells the cameraman: “Get ready for some serious Heart of Darkness shit here.”
The McAfee-as-Colonel-Kurtz imagery is nothing new, but the revelations in Burstein’s film make them harder than ever to ignore. That’s especially true considering MGT Capital Investments recently announced plans to bring on the “eccentric millionaire” as CEO, meaning McAfee, who fled Belize four years ago as authorities sought to question him following the murder of his neighbor, is now back in the public consciousness.
Burstein says she began researching McAfee after she read Joshua Davis’ December 2012 profile in WIRED. “I’m fascinated with people that are gifted and smart and wealthy and powerful, that have, at times, crossed the line,” says Burstein, who has made acclaimed documentaries about both Robert Evans and Tonya Harding. “I became riveted, and then I became obsessed. And I uncovered things I never expected to uncover.”
Her film is gripping, showing a seemingly paranoid man whose wealth, charm, and intelligence allow him to continually avoid law enforcement. On the strength of interviews with neighbors, employees, members of his Belizean security team, and Allison Adonizio—a Harvard biologist who lived and worked with McAfee and figures prominently in Jeff Wise’s Gizmodo profile—Gringo also links McAfee to even more nefarious behavior during his time in Belize.
McAfee, for his part, is railing against Burstein’s documentary and Showtime, which will air it this weekend. In a series of tweets posted yesterday, he claimed the doc was “fraudulent” and promised to contest claims made in Gringo. (MGT is also standing behind him.)
Burstein asks early in the film: “How did John McAfee reinvent himself? Are there different rules for people with money, power, and fame? Or is John just a master manipulator?” If he manages to escape any fallout from her documentary, those questions will likely be asked again, louder than ever.
Gringo: The Dangerous Life of John McAfee premiered at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival and will air on Showtime this Saturday. Check out an exclusive clip from the doc above.
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