Based on the true events of the Bre-X mining scandal in the mid-1990s, Matthew McConaughey proves once again that he has made the full transition from Hollywood hunk to diverse character actor in Gold. As the bald, pot-bellied, yellow snaggle-toothed Kenny Wells, heir to the Washoe Mining Company, McConaughey is the embodiment of the underdog with an insatiable dream to be fulfilled – to find a goldmine (literally).
After falling on hard times, Wells has a vision of striking it big in Indonesia and gets on the next plane to make his dream a reality. He forms a partnership with Michael Acosta (Edgar Ramirez), a juggernaut of the copper mining industry who shares Wells’ lust for gold. Together they scope out a good spot to dig, pull together a team of locals and start prospecting. This was the part of the movie that made the environmentalist within me feel uncomfortable as you see them hacking at the untouched natural landscape, all for the sake of greed.
The apparent success of the Indonesian goldmine and the ensuing rollercoaster of emotion and disaster that comes with newfound riches is the main focal point for the film and you can’t help but get caught up in Wells’ feverish plight. Bryce Dallas Howard’s scene stealing, nuanced performance as the vulnerable wife highlights Wells’ softer side. Corey Stoll is perfectly slimy as Brian Woolf, the J.P. Morgan financier who want a piece of the pie. Aussie Rachael Taylor’s talent is wasted, making a brief appearance as a gold-digger (in the pejorative sense).
Gold was not without fault, with confusing flash-forwards thrown in halfway through to throw you off-guard, making it feel as though you had missed an important plot point at the start. Not to mention the corny yet baffling symbolism – Wells’ sees a legless bird in flight which he also has tattooed on his arm.
Then there were the plot twists. Gold crams in as many “will they, won’t they?” moments into the two hour long film as possible which towards the end of the movie gets tiresome as you just want to see the conclusion. Despite some great performances, all that glitters is not Gold.
*** (three stars)
Reviewed by Josh van’t Padje