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Review: 'Crypto' fails to deliver the goods

Posted Tuesday, June 18, 2019 at 12:20 PM Central
Last updated Thursday, June 20, 2019 at 8:19 AM Central

by John Couture

Quick, name the Hemsworth brothers.

Well, you've got Thor naturally. And there's the one that is married to Miley Cyrus and was in those Hunger Games movies. And then, there's Fat Thor. Oh wait, on second glance, that's Luke Hemsworth.

To be fair, when your brothers have chiseled out such impressive resumes, they can be a hard act to follow. The eldest of the Hemsworth brothers, Luke has actually seen his fair share of accolades lately for his performances in Westworld and Hickok.

Unfortunately, Crypto is one of those movies that he'll most likely want to forget.

Crypto follows a hotshot Wall Street banker/cybersecurity expert who ruffles the wrong feathers and is sent to the pasture to look in the transactions of a bank branch in upstate New York. The branch happens to be close to the farm where his estranged father and brother call home and when he uncovers a potential money laundering scheme, his family might have to pay the ultimate price.

That sounds pretty good, doesn't it? Just another example in the long line of films that sound better on paper than they look on the big screen. The biggest problem I had with the movie also happened to be the biggest plot mechanism that they were trying to exploit, cryptocurrency.

The concept of cryptocurrency is sexy, the real work application of it is not. Case in point, there's a scene in the film when negotiations are underway and Beau Knapp, who plays the aforementioned hot shot, offers up what the bad guys want on a micro SD drive. Sure, that makes sense when you're dealing with cryptocurrency, but I literally laughed out loud at the absurdity of him holding up this tiny microchip. Do you know what's sexy on the big screen? A big old bag of cash. This time-honored currency in big-screen negotiations is much more photogenic than its new tech counterpart.

As a concept, cryptocurrency is new and sleek, but beyond being boring on the big screen, it's also a bit confusing and most people will be left scratching their heads. Crypto tries to play both sides of this argument by presenting the concepts in a fast and loose way but then relies on the technological intricacies to resolve matters in the third act. In a way, I felt that this was a tad like a bait-and-switch that likely would confuse and confound the average audience member.

All of the puzzling plot points aside, there are some things to like about Crypto. I thought former Gilmore Girl Alexis Bledel displays some of the most diverse acting chops of her young career. Her character is perhaps the most interesting one in the movie, so it's only fitting that her most iconic scene involves her singing a karaoke version of "House of the Rising Sun." I mean this was such a bizarre inclusion, and yet, it may be Crypto's sole redeeming moment. It was memorable at least.

What was not memorable was the performance from Kurt Russell as the family's patriarch. I don't recall the last time I saw such a phoned-in performance from Russell. He's usually about as reliable as they come and his role certainly had the potential for more, but, for whatever reason, he was restrained and just didn't add much to the experience.

Lead Beau Knapp was more than serviceable as the lead, but Luke Hemsworth seemed to carry the Hemsworth chip on his shoulder as the older brother who returned from war as a distant and changed man. This is the type of role that I fear Luke will become typecast in because he has the general physique for it, but I wonder if there's more beneath the surface like his brothers.

The younger Hemsworths have shown a penchant for comedy work and as of yet, we haven't seen this same sort of range from Luke. It may simply be that he isn't cut out for this type of role, but something tells me that we will be blown away one day by a comedic turn from him.

Overall, Crypto is not the worst film that I have seen this year, but it is one that is incredibly uneven with plot holes big enough to drive a Fat Thor through. I really wish that they would have spent more time developing the script because I do think that there is potential in using cryptocurrency as a plot device. It's certainly sexy in the abstract, the challenge is to figure out how to translate that sexiness on the big screen.

Your mileage may vary, but this is a crowded week for releases and there are much better options to be had. Crypto is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.