Imagine an online shop for drugs. Not just prescription pills but recreational Class A drugs like cocaine and MDMA. It seems like a thing of fiction, a “who would be stupid enough to try that?” flight of fancy.
Well, this story is not a fantasy. In fact, it’s a case that had German police stumped and one teenager sitting on a £3.8million drug empire as a result. And all of this achieved from one small bedroom.
Shiny_Flakes: The Teenage Drug Lord is the story that inspired Netflix’s hit German show, How To Sell Drugs Online (Fast). Here though, the layers of glitzy façade and drama are peeled away to provide a recreation for how remorseless Maximilian Schmidt started his business and managed to evade capture for so long.
In this cat and mouse story, the perspective shifts between the police, psychologists, lawyers and back to Max again. The latter is the main focus here, as Max talks us through every aspect of his operation.
From setting the Shiny_Flakes website up to learning how to cut drugs, every part of his journey into crime is brought to life through reenactments, POV shots and a number of “real-time” computer screens.
It’s a pretty involving documentary in truth, one that begins in December 2013 with Max’s business being set up and all going well. As orders start to back up, cogs in the wheel end up missing and the pressures start getting to Max, those small cracks soon grow to large chasms.
With the police sniffing around the operation, it was perhaps only a matter of time before this teenager was going to get caught.
This documentary breaks all of this down in detail, although there are some interesting shifts in perspective that spice things up.
One scene depicts the lead investigator nonchalantly waving away accusations that Max was hit in the face with the butt of a gun while being arrested. The next scene shows photos from his arrest, sporting a nasty bruise up the side of the head.
Another instance sees Max wave away any suggestion that he was caught, blaming it on his associates. From the police’s perspective, this was a long time coming and they’d been keeping tabs on the operation online for a while, unable to crack the key until one mistake. Either way, these shifts do help to give this documentary a bit more depth.
Armed with some decent editing and a balanced perspective, Shiny_Flakes is well worth a watch. It perfectly breaks down all the key parts of this investigation while maintaining the wherewithal to stay as balanced as possible throughout too. At an easily digestible 90 minutes, Netflix’s latest doc is well worth your time.
Verdict - 8/10