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by Jack Sommersby

"A Small-Scale Curio Worth a Look-See"
3 stars

Don't be fooled by the cheesy DVD cover art that looks to have been designed by a third-grader.

There's an interesting financial crime thriller called Crypto that's been barely released, and I find it my duty to say a few kind words about it. Starring the talented young actor Beau Knapp, the movie is about his Wall Street anti-money-laundering compliance officer Martin Duran who, as punishment for authorizing an internal audit of his employer, is reprimanded and reassigned to a local branch in a small upstate New York town that just happens to be where he grew up. Martin's far from happy about it - he left there to attend the Wharton school of business while his mother was suffering from a terminal illness, much to the chagrin of both his Iraq War, PTSD-suffering brother and disgruntled-farmer father, with bitterly cold weather having recently wreaked havoc on the sugarbeet crop. (Martin graduated top of his class and was the number-one candidate for any Wall Street job he wanted, but he honorably chose Compliance and wound up passing up the big bucks.) It would seem to be a no-brainer of a job in this hick town, but after some mysterious monetary transfers are discovered and exemptions odiously been granted an art gallery, Martin finds himself knee-deep in corruption concerning cryptocurrency that's fast becoming the acme of dirty money. Unlike such classics as Oliver Stone's Wall Street and J.C. Candor's Margin Call, Crypto doesn't do the best job in the world of making the technical financial jargon comprehensible - you're left trying to make it add up in your head more often than not even while paying the utmost attention. But the movie is acutely edited and paced like gangbusters so there isn't a single boring moment in it. And Knapp is a genuine find. With an uneven brush cut, off-the-rack Macy's suits, a near-Cro Magnon facial structure, and five-'o-clock shadow he doesn't look like your typical financial wizard, and that works for the picture in that he comes across as quite the atypical analytical hero. (One thing, though: He needs to work on his diction, for I missed about twenty percent of his lines.) Crypto lacks sustained tension, but while director John Stalberg, Jr. occasionally missteps with some off-kilter overhead long shots, I can't say I minded staying with it throughout its entire running time. It makes for a perfectly acceptable time-killer.

(Note: As Martin's stubborn, refuse-to-sell-the-farm father, the always-welcome Kurt Russell delivers another seemingly-effortless exemplary performance. As usual, Russell starts with the man and builds the character from the inside out and vivifies him just enough to warrant our devout attention. He again solidifies himself as a bona-fide national treasure.)

Be sure to check out the behind-the-scenes featurette. A lot of good interviews to be had.

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originally posted: 01/19/20 05:26:13
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  12-Apr-2019 (R)



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