The quest for the quick buck is an all-consuming addictive roller coaster ride to the hunter. Even when the hunt starts on the right side of the law, it can often end in a crime. Every year, we get two or three versions of this story. The next entry into this genre is called Gold, a fictionalized account of the Canadian Bre-X Mining scandal of 1993.
The film stars Matthew McConaughey as Kenny Wells, the third-generation owner of Washoe Mining in Reno, NV, who has lost everything after the death of his father, played by Craig T. Nelson. He is living with his girlfriend and running what’s left of his business out of a bar. Wells’ attempts to finance his next mining venture are going nowhere. In a drunken stupor, he remembers meeting Michael Agosta (Édgar Ramírez), a geologist who believes there is gold to be found in the remote jungles of Indonesia. Wells becomes convinced that Agosta’s theory is true and so he pawns everything he has left and flies to Indonesia. Wells’ mission is to persuade Agosta to work for Washoe to find and mine the gold. The two men agree to a 50/50 split on all profits and the prospecting begins. The film shows us the difficulties of mining in a foreign country with a tropical climate, the making of the deal with Wall Street bankers, and how quickly it all unravels.
Principle photography occurred in New York City, New Mexico and Thailand. The fashion, hair styles, and room décor all reflect that 80s “bigger is better” mentality. The jungle scenes were shot to perfection you can almost feel the heat and humidity during their trek to the mining site.
Matthew McConaughey shaved his head and gained 45lbs for this role. His disheveled appearance is a departure from his normal, handsome leading man roles. He is an expert at body transformation as we’ve seen from him in his Oscar winning role in Dallas Players Club, where he was unrecognizable. In this role, the body transformation didn’t conceal him; it’s McConaughey as a creepy uncle trying to sell me the Brooklyn Bridge.
If the physical transformation doesn’t allow the actor to disappear into a role, then the script should be strong enough to cloak the actor and this may be where Gold lost it for me. It is difficult to see McConaughey as Wells when the movie appears to be written and directed to his personality and roles he has played before. The writers also couldn’t decide if they wanted the movie to be a comedy or a drama. The film has some redeeming qualities and parts that I found interesting; however, overall, it seemed to drag. The film runs just over two hours and I think about 15 minutes could have been left on the cutting room floor. The film is just okay, not good, yet not bad.
2.5. gold nuggets out of 5