Film Review: CRYPTO (directed by John Stalberg Jr.)

Post image for Film Review: CRYPTO (directed by John Stalberg Jr.)

by Laura Carro on November 17, 2020

in Film


One way to gauge the popularity of any new fad, invention or development that has been around for a while is to see how quickly it is picked up by popular culture. Movies and TV shows using them as plot devices are a sure sign that they are becoming part of mainstream conversations and dialogue, and are in the public’s mind enough for there to be a need for content around them. Using this as a yardstick, we can confidently say that cryptocurrencies have reached that stage in the public’s eye, since there are now quite a few movies which use crypto as a central theme for their plot. One of the first movies to do so was Crypto, which was released last year.

Crypto is a crime drama with cryptocurrencies at its heart, and despite being an indie film, has a bonafide star in Kurt Russell leading the cast. Other notable names include Luke Hemsworth, Alexis Bledel and Beau Knapp. The fact that the original script was written in 2017 makes sense, as that was when the crypto bubble was at its peak. It took the director, John Stalberg Jr. until mid-2018 to sort out production deals, which is why the movie was only released at a small scale in the USA as late as April 2019. Nevertheless, all these delays aside, Crypto is a decent attempt at basing a plot around cryptocurrencies, even though some of the depictions and descriptions are not exactly accurate.

The plot centers around Marty, played by Knapp, who is a compliance officer at a bank. He is basically trying to fight against money laundering, and when he thinks he has found evidence of the same at the bank, instead of being lauded and praised, he is exiled to a nondescript branch in his hometown, where he proceeds to make life miserable for everyone else. Kurt Russell’s character shows up for a bit and then disappears, while the supposed bad guys are Russian, and that is made painfully clear by various on-screen tropes, including heavily accented dialogues, phone screens flashing in Russian, and ominous music whenever they are on screen.

While this movie shows the dark side of cryptocurrencies, that is just one side of things. In real life, cryptocurrencies and blockchain are being used and adopted by a number of industries and sectors, with online gambling offering various bitcoin slots serving as the perfect example of this. Online casino websites have been offering users the option to make their deposits and withdraw their earnings in the form of cryptocurrencies, leading to increased traffic and interest for these sites, which also translates into more revenue for them. It is not just Bitcoin; other cryptocurrencies such as Litecoin, Ethereum and Dogecoin are also options for users, and readers can follow this site to find more sites with crypto casinos, which have huge selections of casino games as well as games specifically created to play with cryptocurrencies.

Coming back to the movie, it is curious that despite having the name Crypto, the actual mentions of cryptocurrencies are few and far between. The alleged money laundering at the heart of the movie does not take place via cryptocurrencies at all, which is at least realistic, since the whole point of cryptocurrencies is to make things like money laundering impossible using them. Nevertheless, there are some very poorly used tropes to try and explain cryptocurrencies in the movie, which will not go down well with those who are more familiar with this market.

Crypto is a decent attempt at bringing cryptocurrencies to the masses, but it is painfully slow, taking way too long for the plot to get engaging. There is also a lot of hand-holding, as the audience is literally told when something is important or ominous through the heavy background score. Crypto looks like a good movie, as it has been shot well, but the dialogue is too formulaic and scripted, and that holds it back from being a properly good movie, and thus it will probably only remain a cult film among hipsters.

Leave a Comment