Gringo: The Dangerous Life of John McAfee – The Root of All Evil (Review)


Nanette Burstein  (who has a number of documentaries under her belt including the 2002 film “The Kid Stays in the Picture” which was a close look at coke head film producer Robert Evans) takes on John McAfee. Burstein does a good job peeling back the multiple layers of B.S. that surrounds the software tycoon and megalomaniac.

“The Dangerous Life of John McAfee” is a bit of a misnomer, although the film’s title could be seen as a skewed accusation.  For a man suspected of two murders and at least one chemically coerced rape, it seems life is more dangerous for those around the father of anti-virus software than for McAfee himself.

Documentary director Burstein plots the rise and increasingly odd behavior of McAfee.  From his forced buy out from the company that bore his name to his eventual migration to Belize. Once there McAfee wasted no time building a personal army of security guards and buying off the local police.

Watching the Showtime documentary it is clear that McAfee is, at times, beyond eccentric.  Several of the people interviewed by Bernstein come out and say the man is “batch*t crazy.” While in Belize, the software mogul definitely appeared to be delusional.

After his brief term as a yoga master, which, incidentally, appeared to be focussed on sex, McAfee moves to Belize. Apart from his armed bodyguards and accumulation of girlfriends and hookers, McAfee seems to  have believed he could replicate the 1992 Sean Connery film Medicine Man. 

Hiring a Harvard graduate to turn plants into medicine, McAfee spent his time granting interviews about a nonexistent products and looking for investors.

Later he was believed responsible for the deaths of two men in the area and the Harvard grad has accused him of rape. That John McAfee suffers from megalomania is apparent from his email correspondence with Bernstein and his threats.

The documentary speaks with a vast number of people in Belize, including the man thought to be responsible for carrying out the killing of McAfee’s next door neighbor.

By the end of the film, the subject of the documentary does not come off very well.  Overall it is a story of a visionary whose brief time in the spotlight paid over the odds and gave him a taste for the spotlight. McAfee took his payoff and “lived large” in several different places.

The former software genius seems to have lost that visionary capability and has replaced it with sordid desires and an accumulation of power.  McAfee is also the embodiment of a modern day flimflam man, aka an entrepreneur.

Almost as an afterthought, the film points out that his home  was raided by the police looking for manufactured drugs.

It is revealed that the suspected meth was in fact something else. Reading other articles about McAfee and his flight from Belize to escape questioning and possible conviction for murder, it is clear that Bernstein wanted to focus on the homicides and not the alleged drug dealing.

Vice Gaming, whose reporter inadvertently caused McAfee’s arrest in Guatemala, mentions the sexual obsession side of the man. Their article focusses on bath salts, as a sex aid, and McAfee’s orgies. They also talk about his interest in scat.

The Showtime documentary leaves all that alone. Bernstein is interested in John’s two alleged murders and his other off the wall antics. One of which happened to be his bid for the white house.

(On a sidenote, it would not be surprising to learn that McAfee and Donald Trump are actually huge pals.)

It is interesting to note that a man with so much money responds with threats of violence and disturbing innuendos to Bernstein’s documentary. Rather than take legal action, that the man could clearly afford, he  opts for threats.

The documentary actually does a good job showing just how delusional and dangerous McAfee is.  While the man is not in Belize any longer he still has enough money to cause problems in this country as well.

Fortune reports that McAfee is fighting back against the documentary. Like everything else on file about the man, it appears to be a form of  self aggrandizement. His version of events makes him a  victim of the press and Showtime in particular.

Gringo: The Dangerous Life of John McAfee is steaming on Showtime. Stop by and check this documentary out.  Watch this take on an “ugly American” who built his own gang in Belize. McAfee comes across as the root of all evil in this film and not just because of the fortune lining his coffers.

This documentary proves that money may not be able to  buy happiness but it can pay for the murder of two people in another country.


Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

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"I hold it, that a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical."

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