Matthew McConaughey must have a thing for bullion. “Gold,” a new film directed by Stephen Gaghan, is his third movie after “Sahara” and “Fool’s Gold” to use the search for the elusive ore as a story device. Who can blame him? The bright metal is the stuff of dreams, but remember, all that glitters is not gold.
McConaughey, with a receding hairline and carrying fifty extra pounds, is Kenny Wells a third generation prospector. His grandfather scratched the company out of the side of a Nevada mountain before his father (Craig T. Nelson) turned it into a multimillion-dollar concern. Kenny hasn’t been as lucky. Unable to strike gold—literally and figuratively—he is reduced to setting up office in a bar where the liquor and bad ideas flow freely.
Down to his last dollar, he pawns his wife’s last piece of decent jewellery to buy a plane ticket to Indonesia to meet gold miner Michael Acosta (Edgar Ramírez). Acosta has a lead on a mine located in the jungle but doesn’t have the capital to set up the operation. Kenny jumps in, raises the money and after a slow start they hit a vein. “It’s amazing how gold dust can change everything,” he says, “and for better and for worse the ride had begun.”
The “ride” isn’t just the riches to rags to riches story, but also a wild tale of avarice, hubris and dreams.
McConaughey is digging for gold and chewing the scenery in his latest movie. Wells is a larger-than-life character who leaves behind a larger-than-life mess and McConaughey wastes no opportunity to go big. He grins and grimaces throughout, filling the screen with Wellsian personality.
It’s a good thing too, because the by-the-book script doesn’t offer up much in the way of anything that feels real. It’s “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” without the exploration of human weakness or the conscience. It’s a potboiler on low simmer. It’s the kind of movie where people say things like, “You gotta plan?” while someone else (usually McConaughey) nods knowingly.
“Gold” looks pretty—the scenes in the Indonesian jungle are gorgeous—and does have a nice a nice subtext about the power of belief—What is a prospector? “Someone who believes it is out there.”—but has too much of a boiler plate plot to truly glitter.