For the purposes of this review, let’s pretend it’s not near the end of the first month of 2017 but rather the beginning of December, when I got to check out Matthew McConaughey in his new film, Gold. To this point (aside from Kubo And The Two Strings, a film that woefully underperformed), the Oscar-winning actor has not had a very good year. His Civil War drama Free State Of Jones started out well but then descended into a boring and monologuing mess. Sing, his second animated film of the year, was underdeveloped and full of cliches. The two-year ride of Dallas Buyers Club and Interstellar came to a screeching halt. Before we write him off, he still had Gold to come out, the new film from Syriana director Stephen Gaghan.
The film takes place in the late 1980s with McConaughey playing Kenny Wells, a down and out businessman in a tough industry – gold mining. Trying to continue the legacy left by his father and to prove to his loving girlfriend Kay (Bryce Dallas Howard), and the world that he will not get buried by failure. To do this, he pawns everything he has, including Kay’s gold watch, for a ticket to Indonesia to meet with a geologist named Michael Acosta (Edgar Ramirez). Going into business together, the two head into the jungle to find a deposit of gold and after a lengthy search – and a brush with death for Kenny – they hit a jackpot. The projected amount of gold is so large that they become the talk of the business world, taking Wall Street by storm and having their doors knocked down by potential investors and wannabe partners. Everything is looking great and lucrative for them but, you know. mo’ money, mo’ problems.
The film looks good, shot by Robert Elswit, who coincidentally won an Academy Award for another mining film, There Will Be Blood. Unfortunately, the film does nothing to set itself apart from any other “rise and fall” biopic film, but as opposed to being an actual true story this one is just “inspired” by one. Another under sight for this film is a bit of a weak script as Gaghan -the writer of films like Traffic and the aforementioned Syriana – took a back seat to this one, leaving it in the hands of a couple of first timers. You’d be lucky to remember this one beyond a couple of months, for me even less with all the other movies I watch.
The character of Kenny Wells also feels a little too fine tuned for Matthew McConaughey. We have a lot of the same mannerisms and trademark looks that he gives, just behind a pot belly, that is prominently shown off as he spends a lot of time in his underwear, and a brutal baldheaded combover. That said, he’s the shining point of the film, as everyone seems to be stuck in a sort of stagnant quasi-mediocrity that doesn’t drag the film down but doesn’t give it any rising power at all. Everything in this film, aside from Elswit, seems to be content with just an average level of commitment and it’s a little disheartening given the fun that could be had. Not a bad movie but nothing to really recommend to anyone. 3/5