Directed by: Stephen Gaghan – Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Édgar Ramírez, Bryce Dallas Howard, Corey Stoll, Toby Kebbell, Craig T Nelson, Stacy Keach, Bruce Greenwood
Given that Gold is set in the 80s, I am very surprised no savvy marketing man in Spandau Ballet’s camp managed to get their legendary song attached to this project, since it features a wealth of other nostalgic tunes. It also features a staggering array of questionable 80s fashions, that will have people of a certain age wondering what they were thinking!
Big hair, shoulder pads, and Matthew McConaughey’s questionable y-fronts aside, Gold tells the tale of Kenny Wells (played by McConaughey) who is down on his luck, but dreams of striking gold. While that would mean winning the lotto to you or I, for him it literally means finding the shiny precious metal!
He teams up with a geologist, Michael Acosta (Ramírez, who, I have to say, went down a treat with the ladies, and some of the guys, at the screening I attended!) and they start mining in Indonesia, backed by money Kenny has raised from friends and neighbours.
After a lot of frustration and false hope, they finally seem to find untapped gold reserves worth hundreds of millions of dollars. As is always the case, people who didn’t want to know Kenny when he was on his uppers suddenly become his new best friend, and want a piece of the action. But like the old adage says, be careful what you wish for…
Gold screams Oscar bait. Loosely based on a ‘so bonkers it has to be true tale’, McConaughey once again proves he’s a serious actor, this time gaining weight and going bald for the role (because we all know that’s what makes a serious actor).
Basically his character here is exactly the same as his Dallas Buyers Club character, except instead of hustling for HIV medication, he’s hustling for gold. Other than that, they could be separated at birth. I also wonder if Ramírez was cast before he agreed to ‘ugly up’. If so, that shows a serious lack of vanity on his part as, it has to be said, Ramírez is damn fine, and manages to look completely brooding throughout, even when he’s supposed to be dirty, hot, and sweaty in the jungle.
He’s not just a pretty face though, and does give a brilliant performance as Michael. Bryce Dallas Howard is always a joy to watch, and this is no exception. She plays Kenny’s better-half, and although her character is somewhat clichéd basically acting as his conscience, she manages to bring a huge amount to the role. Also, it is completely refreshing to see a normal woman on screen, rather than a 6-foot stick insect.
The rest of the cast aren’t really stretched. They all give good performances, but they are pretty much window-dressing for the two main players.
The script is good. If you aren’t aware of the background story, it does keep you on its toes with its twists and turns. There are also some lovely, humorous moments. At several points, the movie feels like it could end, and then you get just one more twist. The jungle scenes are beautifully shot, and boast some wonderful overhead shots that juxtapose nicely with the city scenes.
On the whole however, Gold feels very uneven. Don’t get me wrong – it is extremely entertaining, and McConaughey and Ramírez make a great double-act. But there is some clunky editing, and some scenes that just feel like they were written in because they thought they would be a hoot, rather than adding anything to the story.
Not as profound as it thinks it is, Gold is still a lot of fun, and will leave you with a smile on your face. Just don’t scratch the surface, or you may find it‘s more gold-plate than 24-carat.
In Cinemas Now! See Trailer Below: