Like a garden-variety con man, “Trust No One: The Hunt for the Crypto King” relies on razzle-dazzle to deflect from an emptiness of insight. The documentary (on Netflix) centers on Gerald W. Cotten, the founder of a Canadian cryptocurrency exchange called Quadriga CX who died in 2018, leaving many users shut out from accessing their funds.
The movie aligns viewers with a handful of Quadriga users who team up as amateur detectives on the case. One, speaking under the name QCXINT, wears a disguise to protect his identity. Another floods his YouTube channel with theories. As the men scour social media and trade motivating comments on message boards, the director Luke Sewell uses dim lighting and theatrical re-enactments to track their digital sleuthing with an outsized sense of drama and gravitas.
For while Cotten’s death — which was not made public until a month afterward — is peculiar, it soon becomes clear that the aggrieved Quadriga users are uniquely unfit investigators of its mystery. Distrustful of authority, the men become keyboard vigilantes who, egging each other on, grow convinced that Cotten faked his death and absconded with their money.
Sewell does speak to journalists and experts who offer some coherent analysis. Had the movie prioritized such clearheadedness over crude true crime tropes, it might have emerged as a sharp window into the dangers of speculation — both in the purchase of assets and on conspiratorial Reddit boards. Instead, this sensational documentary feels bankrupt at its core.
Trust No One: The Hunt for the Crypto King
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes. Watch on Netflix.
Source: NY Times