Gold (2016)

Gold (2016)
  • Time: 121 min
  • Genre: Adventure | Drama | Thriller
  • Director: Stephen Gaghan
  • Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Édgar Ramírez, Bryce Dallas Howard


An unlikely pair venture to the Indonesian jungle in search of gold.

2 reviews to Gold (2016)

  • VIEWS ON FILM  says:

    A mediocre businessman and rattled, treasure prospector finds out that there might be gold buried deep in the jungles of Borneo (the largest island in Asia). That’s the gist of 2016’s Gold, my latest review.

    Based loosely on true events (and I do mean loosely), Gold changes the names and places to protect the you know what (ha ha). It’s a two hour film that gives you a story told once too often. It’s rags to riches then back to rags again. It’s also the rise and fall of the untrustworthy American dream. Are parts of Gold entertaining? Yup. Are parts of it fully compelling or invigorating? Eh, a little.

    Anyway, Gold stars Matthew McConaughey in the titled character of Kenny Wells. Did he know he wasn’t making an Academy Award winner here? Probably not. Regardless, McConaughey is fully committed to his part. Strutting like Les Grossman from his own Tropic Thunder and looking like Albert Finney when Albert played Ebenezer Scrooge, McConaughey dons false teeth, a receding hairline, an over dramatic sense of being, and forty pounds of extra weight. He then proceeds to chew scenery as if he were a canine staring down five T-bone steaks. Matthew’s Wells chain smokes and drinks hard liquor in almost every scene in Gold. It’s enough to get lung cancer and then have that cancer get cancer. No joke.

    As for the rest of the cast, well Edgar Ramirez plays Michael Acosta. Acosta is a geologist and the veritable “straight man” to Kenny Wells. Ramirez seems to be in a lot more movies these days. I almost forgot about him completely after he appeared in 2005’s Domino. Lastly, the gleaming Bryce Dallas Howard channels Kenny’s longtime girlfriend Kay. She supports him and goes along with his plight before it gets out of hand. Howard comes off as a side trouper but still supplies plenty of eye candy. I dug her retro hair style. Believe that.

    Now Gold is set in the late 1980’s yet it appears like it could have went down in the mid-70’s. Heck, it’s still a decent looking film all around. Indonesia appears lush from a helicopter (you could almost imagine Indiana Jones hiding in the background), Nevada is dusty and seedy, and New York is well, New York. Gold’s music is by Daniel Pemberton. It sounds similar to something along the lines of trip hop master David Holmes (Holmes scored Ocean’s Eleven and Out of Sight). Finally, the choppy editing by Douglas Crise gives Gold the distinction of having slight plot holes. Likewise, Gold supplies you with the feeling that it takes place over a decade when in fact, the happenings pretty much occur within a year’s time (1988 to be exact).

    All in all, Gold is hardly authentic (get it). It’s a movie that might have made more of an impact had it come out fifteen years ago (that’s just pure speculation). Nevertheless, it’s emulation Scorsese and me-too Paul Thomas Anderson. It also contains remnants of 2009’s Middle Men, Johnny Depp’s Blow, and last year’s War Dogs. If this appeals to you, then it might be worth a look. Still, it sure seems like an odd choice for director Stephen Gaghan. He won a screenplay Oscar for Traffic and got nominated for one with the critically acclaimed Syriana. His Gold is a tad too animated and/or satiric to be taken seriously. Bottom line: It feels like Gaghan might be a little above this material. Overall rating: 2 and a half stars.

    Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars

    Check out other reviews on my blog:

  • etc-etera review  says:

    So loosely based on true events as to be practically fictitious, Gold at least finds Matthew McConaughey relishing his role as the balding, snaggle-toothed, pot-bellied prospector who literally dreams of finding gold in Indonesia.

    The real story involved a Filipino prospector named Michael de Guzman, who claimed to have discovered one of the largest gold deposits on record and eventually took the fall for the most famous gold mining scandal, which bankrupted the Canadian conglomerate Bre-X Minerals, Ltd. and lost its investors hundreds of millions of dollars. Screenwriters Patrick Massett and John Zinman emphasise the rise and fall of the American Dream aspects of the tale, not a bad decision in and of itself, but the final product is leeched of any vitality despite McConaughey’s obvious investment in his portrayal of third-generation prospector Kenny Wells.

    Transplanting the time and setting from early 1990s Calgary to late 1980s Reno, Nevada, the narrative initially finds Kenny at his lowest point. The economy is in recession, the family’s mining company is barely keeping its head above water (Kenny and his reduced crew are running the business out of a local bar), Kenny’s already lost his house and hustling like a bat out of hell to prevent losing the house he shares with steadfast girlfriend Kay (Bryce Dallas Howard), but everything’s pointing to a losing battle. And then Kenny has a dream, a dream that compels him to scrape together what little money he has to travel to Indonesia to find Michael Acosta (Edgar Ramírez), a geologist famous for a huge copper strike in the country and infamous for a yet-to-be proven theory that there are untapped reserves of gold in a site he calls “the Ring of Fire.”

    Acosta is initially wary of Kenny, but he’s won over by the American’s can-do spirit and unshakeable belief that the gold is in them thar hills. So the two set off into the wilderness, Kenny contracts malaria and, several weeks later, the malaria clears and Kenny learns that he and Acosta have struck it rich. Their find attracts the attention of investment bankers such as Corey Stoll’s Brian Woolf, who tolerates the brash huckster long enough to find a way to screw him over, and Stacy Keach’s Clive Coleman, who had rejected Kenny when he was down and out. It’s all easy street until it isn’t.

    The film possesses many weaknesses – Stephen Gaghan’s limp direction, for one – but its most significant one is the disconnect between McConaughey and Ramírez. The men’s bond is meant to run deeper than the quest that brought them together – “I went looking for gold and found a friend,” as Kenny himself half-jokingly says – but there’s no sense that their union is anything but a business partnership, which dulls the the power that’s meant to emanate from the events in the third act of the film. Similarly, the relationship between Kenny and Kay is so underdeveloped that it is only by the grace of Howard’s very fine portrayal that Kay’s attempts to protect Kenny from his newfound temptations are as heartbreaking as they are.

    Gold often feels like the very boring third cousin to more engaging fare like American Hustle (with Kenny resembling Christian Bale’s character) and The Wolf of Wall Street (in which McConaughey so memorably cameoed). Gaghan seems uninterested or unwilling to have clear focus on the story he’s aiming to tell – is it a morality tale, a crime story, a character study of a modern-day Willy Loman, or a satirical take on the American Dream where wealth is earned without putting in the work? Perhaps there was never a story to tell, perhaps Gold is nothing but a mere framework to house McConaughey’s gung-ho performance. That’s all well and good, but it isn’t reason enough to sit endure the two hours of boredom that is Gold.

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