Money makes the world go around and, throughout cinema history, it has been a popular central theme of many stories. Let's take a look at three movies where a currency is king and is the protagonist of the stories being told, with the use of money taking three wildly different forms in the past, present, and future.
Brewster’s Millions (1985)
Who wouldn’t like to blast away $30 million in just thirty days? That’s exactly what Monty Brewster has to do in this classic 80s comedy flick, starring the legendary Richard Pryor in the lead role, with larger than life funnyman John Candy as his best buddy, Spike Nolan.
The will of a recently deceased great-uncle Monty has never met, leaves him with two choices: take $1 million and walk away, or try to spend $30 million within thirty days and inherit his entire $300 million fortune. However, there are strict rules to follow, including not telling his friend Spike why he’s so eager to burn through the cash so quickly.
Needless to say, Minor League Baseball pitcher Monty fritters away millions in madcap spectacular style, renting the most expensive hotel suite he can find, and even organizing a lavish exhibition game for Hackensack Bulls minnows against the mighty New York Yankees.
Perhaps the most memorable way of throwing away his millions is running in the New York Mayor elections, spending a fortune on a crazy campaign and coining the memorable vote for “None of the Above” catchphrase. There’s plenty of comedy gold in this madcap caper.
Deep Web (2015)
Narrated by bitcoin enthusiast Keanu Reeves and directed by his Bill and Ted co-star, Alex Winter, you might expect another comedic offering from the duo. However, this is a serious and engrossing documentary movie looking at the Silk Road online black market, the libertarian ideals that surrounded it, and the importance of bitcoin trading online.
Although the Silk Road case caused considerable legal and political controversies at the time, Winter insists that, albeit for negative reasons, “Silk Road put bitcoin on the map, just like Napster put peer-to-peer communities on the map.” The producer-director also feels that bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are the future, as viable alternatives we cannot ignore.
Those communities, in which Reeves and Winter are both sharing a deep personal interest, have grown exponentially and bitcoin has become increasingly legitimized as more than just virtual money, as this useful crypto currency guide explains about its acceptance in the online gambling industry. Bitcoin reportedly offers better security and increased ease of use over the dollar and other fiat currencies.
This really is a thought-provoking and intriguing documentary about a fascinating subject, delving into the underworld of the internet and asking many questions, whilst also retaining a strong human interest focus throughout.
In Time (2011)
Set in a dystopian American future, this is a captivating science fiction thriller starring Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, and Cillian Murphy. The genetically engineered populace of 2169 stop aging once they reach their 25th birthday and, while this might seem like a utopian dream, all is not as it seems.
There’s no money as we know it today, and the currency of life is time itself. Every person has a digital clock embedded into their arms and if it reaches zero hour, they die. While the poor toil to earn every priceless minute they can get, the richest live well beyond a hundred years and some still have hundreds of years left on their clock, hoarding time in the pursuit of eternal life.
Living in a poor district, Timberlake’s character Will rescues a wealthy drunk who is tired of life and transfers his 116 years of time to the protagonist, along with revealing the truth about their ‘us and them’ society.
In the thrilling ride that follows, Will is chased by the Timekeepers – the police of the future – as he unravels the dominance of the elite classes and seeks to right the wrongs of his unbalanced society, where the rich are literally sucking the life from the poor. This movie got mixed reviews and hardly set the box office alight but, for sure, it has all the thematic hallmarks of a cult sci-fi classic.