It’s not often that the subjects of coins or precious metals are cast in a prominent role in the media. Aside from the occasional news story about the discovery of a rare coin or some other numismatic happening with national interest, it’s safe to say that coins don’t make it into many Hollywood scripts.
However, a pair of new films are finally bringing coins and gold to the silver screen!
“Oceans 11 Meets The Breakfast Club“
The quote above came from a review of the new Netflix film, Coin Heist (2017). The plot revolves around a comedic act of desperation involving a motley crew of characters: four teenagers try to carry out a heist of U.S. the Philadelphia Mint, the branch of the U.S. Mint that is essentially its headquarters.
It’s received a lukewarm response from critics thus far. The same review continues, in the next breath,
“. . . but minus the charm, character and ambition.”
The idea that a serious security oversight could leave the mint vulnerable to a group of high school students is obviously in the realm of zany, slapstick comedy. But it was probably meant to be more of a spoof of the classics Oceans 11 and The Breakfast Club—a pretty spot-on comparison—than trying to effectively borrow their creative elements.
At any rate, Forbes gave the 97-minute movie a scathing critique, warning that “the real theft is of the minutes you could have spent doing something more productive.”
Gold Mining Mayhem
Arriving to more acclaim is the major motion picture Gold (2017) that hit theaters this past weekend. The film brings bigger star power with Matthew McConaughey playing the leading role as a gold prospector. The plot is supposedly inspired by the massive Bre-X gold mining scandal that rocked the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) during the 1990s.
Initially a penny stock, Bre-X share prices soared due to a faked geological test conducted by the company that showed the world’s largest gold deposit on the land it was developing in Indonesia. At one point in 1997 before an independent test by major miner Freeport-McMoRan revealed the firm’s ore samples were fraudulent, the stock traded above $280 per share. The subsequent cascade of selling wiped out billions for shareholders. It was later revealed that the company’s executives were using gold filings and gold flakes sourced from local rivers to tamper with the rock samples. The fiasco, full of greed, fraud, and questionable suicide, led to new financial rules and regulations in Canada.
Like the Enron scandal, people have largely forgotten about this penny-stock pump-and-dump scheme. Nonetheless, even as McConaughey’s performance has been praised, critics have not been kind to this film, either. It’s also interesting that both Coin Heist and Gold have a relatively negative or sordid bent to their narrative.
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