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Odd little moments a major asset in cybercurrency thriller ’Crypto’

Luke Hemsworth (left) and Beau Knapp play the sons of a widowed potato farmer (Kurt Russell) in "Crypto." | Lionsgate

“Fear is the ultimate currency.” — tagline for “Crypto.”

Yeah, it is!

Rarely do I advocate seeing a movie at home over the full theater experience, but “Crypto” is the exception.

For one thing, the April 12 limited theatrical release of this cryptocurrency thriller coincides with the video-on-demand launch. More important, this is one of those wonderfully convoluted guilty-pleasure actioners with so many WTF moments, you want to watch it at home with a friend so you can say things like:

“Wait, which Hemsworth brother is this? It’s not Thor, and it’s not Miley’s husband; it’s the third Hemsworth, right?”

“Wow, these Russian bad guys are doing a REALLY terrible job at blending in with the local rural folk.”

“Why does that guy have a secret, elaborate, high-tech hacking center in the back room of his discount liquor store, and shouldn’t he at least have a lock on the door?”

“Alexis Bledel is doing a karaoke rendition of ‘House of the Rising Sun.’ THAT’S different!”

And we haven’t even mentioned Kurt Russell as a widower and potato farmer.

“Crypto” opens with the time-honored gimmick of plunging us into the climactic moment of the movie and then dissolving to …

“ONE WEEK EARLIER”

Beau Knapp’s Martin is a hotshot cybersecurity agent stationed at the Manhattan headquarters of the all-powerful Omni Bank. But after ruffling one feather too many, Martin is reassigned to a remote branch in upstate New York.

Which just happens to be Martin’s hometown, where Martin hasn’t set foot since shortly after his mother’s death 10 years ago. In all that time, Martin hasn’t spoken to his father Martin Sr. (Kurt Russell) or his brother Caleb (Luke Hemsworth), who hasn’t been the same since returning home from active duty.

As Martin Sr. says when Martin Jr. visits the farm, either pick up a shovel and help out, or take a hike!

Martin reconnects with his childhood buddy Earl (Jeremie Harris), who owns the aforementioned liquor store with the multiple-screen computer setup, where Earl has been diving deep into the world of cryptocurrency trading.

“You better brush up, this is the future of money!” says Earl.

You’d think Martin would know something about Bitcoin and such, what with being a cybersecurity expert. But oh, well.

For reasons that defy logic, a world-class art gallery recently opened in this small rural town, and, due to certain screenplay machinations, Martin finds himself at the gallery, where he meets the exotic Penelope (Malaya Rivera Drew), who is always dressed as if hosting a high-end gallery showing, even though the place always seems to be empty.

“You’re a piece of country candy,” purrs Penelope as she sizes up Martin.

But Martin has eyes only for Alexis Bledel’s Katie, who works at the gallery and enjoys hitting the local bar (where she performs karaoke of “House of the Rising Sun”).

Katie (Alexis Bledel) spends a non-singing moment with Martin (Beau Knapp) in “Crypto.” | Lionsgate
Katie (Alexis Bledel) spends a non-singing moment with Martin (Beau Knapp) in “Crypto.” | Lionsgate

Not that there’s much time for romance, not with those ominous Russian thugs lurking about, resorting to kidnapping and murder when it appears Martin might crack a cryptocurrency money-laundering scheme involving the art gallery and a bait-and-tackle shop on the U.S.-Canadian border, and, believe me, that’s all you need to know.

Even the smaller moments in “Crypto” are offbeat, for instance when Martin says to a woman undergoing chemotherapy, “I’ll get out of your hair” and then realizes what a faux pas he’s made. Or when he has an unpleasant conversation with an overnight delivery guy, signs for the package and defiantly says, “I’m keeping your pen!”

And, of course, we get a scene in which our hero watches a video where a key character says, “If you’re watching this, I’m already dead.”

Just once, I’d like to see the guy in one of those videos say, “If you’re watching this, I’m home free! I’m safe and rich, and all is good! WE DID IT!”

‘Crypto’

Lionsgate presents a film directed by John Stalberg Jr. and written by: Carlyle Eubank and David Frigerio. Rated R (for language throughout, some violence, sexuality and drug use). Running time: 105 minutes. Now showing at AMC Streets of Woodfield 20 and on demand.