true story is that of a 30-year-old crypto CEO, (apparently) dead of complications from Crohn’s disease while volunteering at an Indian orphanage, who leaves behind a riddle of false identities, illicit side ventures, and $100 million in missing cryptocurrency. Now there’s a movie I’d pay to see.
Instead, Hollywood has given usCrypto,a product of headier times, when the bitcoin bubble still held air. Like many bad investments of that era, the movie hitched itself to the trending topic and prayed the trend was upward.Crypto, directed by John Stalberg Jr., had the makings of a blockbuster, with an all-star-ish cast including Kurt Russell, Alexis Bledel, and that other Hemsworth brother. It was released unceremoniously last Friday, direct-to-stream.
Beau Knapp plays Morton, a bank compliance officer whose “patriotic” adherence to money-laundering laws gets him kicked out of HQ in New York. Relocated to the local branch in his upstate hometown, Morton finds the place beset by modernity. The gentrifiers have arrived; there’s an art gallery, with an opioid-abusing proprietor. A cold snap has taken out his father’s potato farm. The liquor store owner hawks initial coin offerings, letting townies steal six-packs while he mines crypto in the storage room. (He’s pulling $500 a day.)
Yes,Cryptois full of references to cryptocurrency. Some of them, like Bledel’s grousing about a bitcoin ATM, are even charming. But the movie isn’t really about crypto. Instead, it’s preoccupied with eulogizing the loss of hometown innocence, following a set of tired themes—drugs, crime, climate change, foreigners. (As the heroin-addled gallerist, a corrupt townie herself, puts it just before betraying her Russian mobster beau: “Life’s not simple anymore,” anywhere.) Bitcoin just serves as a handy meme to thread those social ills into the semblance of a plot.
Hollywood’s take on crypto wasn’t expected to be nuanced. What’s surprising a