I just came back from seeing Rian Johnson’s latest movie “Looper” starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, and our favorite metal of all time, Argentum-47 — silver in a supporting role. That’s right — silver plays a minor, but very critical role in this flick. But before I go on, please let me warn you that although I won’t be blurting out spoilers, I will be describing some of the scenes. Therefore, if you wish to have a completely unspoiled viewing experience, please watch the movie and then come back here.
From IMDB, “In 2072, when the mob wants to get rid of someone, the target is sent 30 years into the past, where a hired gun awaits. Someone like Joe, who one day learns the mob wants to ‘close the loop’ by transporting back Joe’s future self”. Obviously, this is a science-fiction action movie, although it has great underlying meaning and a little less action that I expected. There are long conversation and character development scenes devoid of gunfire and explosions, so once in a while it felt a little like I was watching a director’s cut.
But I digress … First, let me start by asking you to guess how these “hired guns” got paid by his bosses from the future? In silver! I believe they used 50 oz. bars with unique QR code-like engraving. This is the main reason for silver being in the movie — as a form of payment for services rendered. You may not think this is anything, but I believe the symbolism of this directorial choice is huge. There’s only one time you see paper currency in the movie — in a montage of the main character’s life in China. He is shown blowing through an entire box full of futuristic renminbis. I’m sure the director wasn’t going for any kind of symbolism here, but, of course, I see it everywhere, including this scene — while the hard store of wealth is locked in a vault to represent the lasting riches, paper is being spent left and right.
I also spotted a fun sub-point related to China. There’s a scene in which the protagonists discuss their next move. One of them wants to go to France. The other one insists on going to Beijing. The director spent extra time on this scene to make sure the point was driven home — in the next 30 years you want to be in China. Not Europe. China. Of course, this is what Jim Rogers, Jim Sinclair, and Peter Schiff have been talking about for years, warning everyone that in the 1800s you’d want to be in London, in the 1900s — in New York, and in 2000s — you want to be in Singapore.
Second, silver is used like money in scenes where characters exchange silver for other goods. There are scenes in which the characters plop down bars of silver in exchange for entertainment or ammunition. I was blown away by the fact that even though the action is set in the near-future, there’s no sign of paper money, electronic money, scanning of tattoo money, swiping of ‘credit chips’, etc. Just boom! silver goes on the table, goods come off the table.
Interestingly enough, silver bars are being mentioned as a store of wealth as well. Many times throughout the movie, the protagonist’s stash is used as a bargaining chip between friends, enemies, employees, and bosses. You can hear lines like, “Do X for half of my silver”, and “Take all of my silver stash”. The final scene shows silver bars being scattered across a rural road with the love interest standing over it, and the plot is assuming secure future for the characters because of their newfound wealth.
Here’s how the Austin Chronicle addresses this very point:
It made sense then to make the world feel as desperate as possible, and make you realize that, if he loses that silver, he’s in a very bad place.
Third, gold is there, too. I won’t tell you exactly how it’s used, but I can say that it’s also a form of payment. Of course, Hollywood did its usual screw-up when portraying someone handling large quantities of gold. In the movie, you can see the henchmen waving a bank of gold bars like it’s papier mache, when in reality if would be much heavier and harder to handle.
Fourth, there’s even a lesson in how NOT to store silver! The main character has a pretty obvious vault safe in the floorboards under the rug with a 5-digit combo lock. The inside of the vault is lined with silver bars, hundreds of them. Hey, at least he didn’t keep it in a bank, an offshore storage facility, or an ETF! The moral here is clear — if he simply separated his stash, he’d be able to access portions of it while he was on the run. Instead, the bad guys walked through the doors, went straight for the safe, and unloaded it. Interestingly, in this scene the director mentioned ‘several trips’ that henchmen would need to take in order to grab all 400+ bars of silver.
Fifth, the future is apparently full of guys who lost faith in fiat currency, but also somehow discovered another Comstock Lode — the amount of silver waved around in the movie is pretty amazing. If the main character sat on almost 500 bars after saving half, this means be banked around 1,000 fifty ounce bars of silver for a combined total of 50,000 oz, or $1.7M in today’s dollars. If every ‘looper’ (hired assassin) was being paid in 50 oz silver bars, that would actually put a small dent into today’s physical markets.
And finally, the most important point I carried out of the movie theater is that silver is entering our collective consciousness. Little by little, like raindrops forming into a flood, silver is increasingly being used as money in popular culture, this movie being the latest example. Since deep down we’re still using our reptilian brains that are susceptible to fight-or-flight responses and repetition, I feel like if the pop culture keeps hammering the point that silver is money, it will soon reach its critical mass and Joe Sixpack will one day want to buy your used car with silver because he saw it in a movie and his friend did the same.
So big props to the director Rian Johnson and the cast of “Looper” — everyone did an amazing job, and this silver bug is very happy. Go see it!