Cryptocurrency In Films

Films That Get Cryptocurrency Wrong and Some That Get It Right. By Frankie Wallace.

Films That Get Cryptocurrency Wrong and Some That Get It Right. By Frankie Wallace.

Most of us have heard of Bitcoin, but what do you really know about the currency? Bitcoin and other forms of digital currency may ultimately become the monetary exchange of the future, and it is leading the way towards a globalized cashless economy. Despite its current, wide-reaching implications, however, cryptocurrency has taken a while to catch on and remains somewhat elusive: Only about 1% of Americans have actually owned or used some form of digital currency.

On the big screen, however, it gets an exciting makeover. Corruption, fraud, and kidnapping reign supreme in Hollywood’s version of cryptocurrency, so much so that “crypto crime drama” is effectively its own genre. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the bulk of everyday moviegoers have little to no understanding of cryptocurrency.

Pros and Cons of Digital Currency

So how does cryptocurrency work, exactly? While the idea of digital currency sounds simple on the surface, the purchasing and spending processes can be confusing. For starters, as digital currency is not tangible, per se, some sort of cryptocurrency wallet is needed.

It’s important to note that this is not like a typical wallet that stores money — cryptocurrency wallets are software programs that store private keys (essentially a secret number) to access currency addresses. What’s more, a digital currency wallet is used to track ownership, as well as receive and spend cryptocurrency in the blockchain.

Thus, when purchasing Bitcoin or another form of cryptocurrency, you should start by obtaining a wallet. Then, you locate a reputable trader and choose your payment method. A number of cryptocurrency brokers charge a small trading fee when you buy Bitcoin using a credit or debit card. Further, you’re likely to be subject to daily transaction limits.

If you want to learn about cryptocurrency and how it works, your best bet is to view a documentary on the subject, of which you have plenty of options. If you’re more in the mood for an action film with cryptocurrency in a supporting role (that may or may not be accurate), however, you may enjoy the following films.

Crypto (2019)

Most real-world cryptocurrency sites are well protected against data breaches thanks to comprehensive, anti-hacking insurance plans, but filmmakers would have us believe otherwise. In fact, the plot of 2019’s Crypto, starring Kurt Russell, revolves around a group of hackers who plan to steal cryptocurrency data.

And herein lies Crypto’s biggest plot hole: you can’t just “steal” cryptocurrency, as it isn’t a standalone form of currency. In order to spend it, the digital currency must somehow be converted to real money.

While money laundering schemes involving Bitcoin do exist, they are the exception rather than the rule and are typically small-scale endeavors. For instance, in March 2019, an 18-year-old Japanese man was jailed for allegedly stealing 15 million yen (equivalent to about $134,300 in U.S. dollars) from a cryptocurrency platform. Perhaps a fictionalized account of his story will end up on the big screen one day.

Virality (2017)

The Finnish crime drama Virality may just be the most engaging cryptocurrency film to date. Four separate stories are interwoven via a (you guessed it) Bitcoin heist. One of the four primary characters is a hacker seeking to branch out on his own. In his mind, a large quantity of cryptocurrency could be the key to independence and happiness.

Interestingly, Virality is set in a world that essentially parallels our own, where virtually anything can be exchanged for goods and/or services, including digital currency. Virality shows the ways in which our own society could be impacted by the widespread use of digital currency, in the form of lawlessness, treachery, and increasing governmental control.

The Second Target (2019)

Apparently, the theft of cryptocurrency can happen anywhere, not just the big city. In The Second Target, directed by Graham Holliday, two small-town young men must do what it takes to thwart a group of cryptocurrency thieves. Because, of course, The Second Target’s thieving hackers are also kidnappers.

Despite relying heavily on a semi-cliche movie trope, The Second Target also adds a bit of comedy to the plot; the bumbling hackers end up kidnapping the wrong man. Cryptocurrency itself doesn’t really have much of a role in this film, yet The Second Target is still worth a watch simply because it was made on a shoestring budget of $180. Yes, you read that right.

The Pitts Circus Family (2017)

The sole comedy film on this list, The Pitts Circus Family is a mockumentary that was marketed as “the world’s first Ethereum funded movie.” Ethereum is a public, blockchain-based computing and cryptocurrency platform, with tokens called Ethereum Movie Ventures (EMVs). The Pitts Circus Family’s tickets doubled as a cryptocurrency. Thus, the film is a prime example of the numerous ways in which blockchain is transforming the movie industry.

Former circus performer Ken Fanning wrote and directed The Pitts Circus Family, and his personal experience is at the heart of the award-winning film. The film centers around a traveling Australian circus family, the Pitts, who find a cryptocurrency wallet belonging to wealthy Swiss aristocrats, and various hijinks ensure. According to Fanning, he sees parallels between the circus and cryptocurrency, as they are both “disruptive.” The Pitts Circus Family provides a little bit of each world, with entertaining results.

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