Did the world need another con artist documentary? Maybe not, but this is an enthralling and inventive exploration of the pitfalls of cryptocurrency. Entrepreneurs just keep finding new ways to scam the unsuspecting public population.
This review of the Netflix documentary film Trust No One: The Hunt for the Crypto King contains spoilers.
Netflix is in the con artist business. No, don’t worry, they’re not scamming viewers, just providing a franchise worth of content focused on the real swindlers of the world. We’ve already had Inventing Anna, The Tinder Swindler, and Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives. this year alone, now it’s time to indulge in the seedy underbelly of the Bitcoin era. Trust No One: The Hunt for the Crypto King explores Quadriga CX founder Gerry Cotten’s mysterious death and the 250 million dollars that disappeared along with him. This is an intriguing documentary that covers the entire fiasco and all the conspiracy theories it garnered about a cryptocurrency enigma.
Gerry Cotten is introduced as a friendly, upbeat gentleman, who radiates a nerdy charm. The CEO of Quadriga CX invested in Bitcoin just before the cryptocurrency boom. In just a few years one Bitcoin went from a valuation of one hundred dollars to that of twenty-seven thousand. He was riding high, buying boats and planes until the inevitable market crash. With this deadly nosedive, customers began to panic as they found their funds were unreachable. Then the founder dies in suspicious circumstances and a media circus ensues.
Directed by Luke Sewell, the movie makes great use of the online world, with the opening credits riffing on search engines and YouTube video clips. When a new interviewee is introduced their name pings on the screen like a notification. There’s lots of these nice little touches throughout, including typing errors for city names and footage freezing for dramatic effect. This is an adeptly edited, fast-paced documentary, which exudes a kinetic intensity, mirroring the chatroom altercations of the main cast and the thrill of the investigation.
Most of the action takes place in these chatroom forums, as those scammed by the cryptocurrency exchange site discuss the boundless possibilities surrounding the disappearance of a millionaire and his customer’s money. Did he fake his own death? Was he assassinated? Is his wife in on it? Was there foul play? There are countless theories to explain these suspicious circumstances and the filmmakers do an expert job of exploring them all. You’ll believe one crazy idea one minute and be completely opposed to it the next. This is a twisty, engrossing film that keeps you on your toes, guessing until the very end.
Viewers may be sick of the overload of con artist material by now, yet this is an exception. A thrilling investigation into the pitfalls of online currency and modern-day greed. The score may be Trent Reznor light and a masked interviewer makes for an Exit Through the Gift Shop Banksy wannabe, but this is a well-crafted documentary that will shock and excite in equal measures.
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