Cyberbunker: The Criminal Underworld Review – Don’t mess with hackers

By Romey Norton
Published: November 8, 2023 (Last updated: November 15, 2023)
Cyberbunker: The Criminal Underworld Review
Cyberbunker: The Criminal Underworld | Image via Netflix


Half playful, half serious documentary on cybercrime, this is as playful as it is impactful. It will make you think about the future of the internet and crime.

In a world that is increasingly online, viewers are ever intrigued, and in danger of, the corruption that happens behind our screens. Cyberbunker: The Criminal Underworld is a Netflix documentary that reveals how a group of hackers powered the darkest corners of the internet from a Cold War-era bunker in a quiet German tourist town. 

This Netflix film is based on a true story, which you can read on The New Yorker’s website, of how a small group of hackers called Cyberbunker ended up running a criminal empire over the dark web from an abandoned bunker. We watch how they were tracked down and captured by Germany’s federal paramilitary police and their short trail.

Cyberbunker: The Criminal Underworld review and plot summary

We open to a mad-scientist-looking character, with an unironed shirt and giant frizzy hair, sitting in a plain room about to be interviewed. The set looks like a photography studio, with a plain background and no props around them. This is Xennt, the mastermind, being interviewed from prison. Script ready, we spend the rest of the documentary building up to this section and hearing what he has to say. 

This group of hackers turned an old bunker into a spaceship and it looked pretty cool — it was also huge, covering five floors. Now, what pays for the internet? Porn. They were hosting porn sites as a cash cow, generating traffic, and getting money any way they can.  

Their ethos is to have total freedom and the ability to do anything on the internet. Cyberbunker made their own little world and accomplished some impressive, yet dangerous and stupid stunts online. Eventually, they found themselves in a cyber war with another competitor — an intense battle happened on the internet and is still one of the biggest ones to ever take place online. Now, freedom to do anything online will lead you to do things completely illegal in the real world, such as drug trafficking and child pornography. 

The interviews with journalist Ed and investigator Nicola are compelling to watch. They’re both extremely easy to watch and listen to — and their passion for their parts in this shines through. There are a multitude of interviews, including from the FBI and the director for the Wall Street Market, all showcasing the power and impact Cyberbunker had worldwide. It’s safe to say there are some wild characters interviewed here (who were part of Cyberbunker), which is oddly refreshing, even though their opinions and abilities are worrying. 

We learn about the police’s investigation and strategy — over 650 police were deployed to the bunker as they didn’t know what to expect there. The police seized four hundred and twelve hard drives, four hundred and three servers, sixty-five USB sticks, sixty-one laptops and computers, fifty-seven phones, and much much more. It’s an insane, almost unbelievable tale, and one worth watching. The data they collected opened up more investigations and was linked to 300 more arrests across 22 countries. 

The final section of the documentary is the trial, which was very complicated, and described as a show trial, followed by the interview with Xennt, which was impactful but slightly anti-climatic. It’s the idea of what he’s capable of that is scarier — the idea that people can create cyber-criminal organizations so quickly and effectively. 

Is Cyberbunker: The Criminal Underworld accurate?

Cyberbunker: The Criminal Underworld proceeds according to the details of the real case, but it is worth remembering that this documentary does use reenacted scenes, and all video surveillance recordings are reenacted too. Because of this the documentary has an action-movie vibe and is able to grip and hook you as a viewer. They do use real footage and photos from the police, and there is copy in the corner of the screen to confirm this. 

Sometimes there are things you wish you could be blissfully unaware about — and this is one of them. Whilst this documentary is insightful and interesting, it’s also terrifying to know that things like this happen so easily. There is also a part of me that is in awe of these people — how they have no fear, no morals, and the sheer confidence, intelligence, and ability to do this.

As documentaries go, this is one hour and forty minutes of exhilaration and information. Well constructed and reported, you’ll learn about the intensity of the criminal underworld.

What did you think of Cyberbunker: The Criminal Underworld? Comment below.

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