Gold sets out to make its mark as the only adventure film where the plucky, idealistic heroes are a mining corporation. To its credit, it almost works, thanks to a fun central performance and a tight script. Screenwriters Patrick Massett and John Zinman keep the story moving, cutting through the industry jargon to focus on the gags and gaffs of this real-life scandal.
A strong cast make the most of small roles; Gold stacks the deck with every character actor who looks remotely like a mining executive, from Stacy Keach to Craig T. Nelson. Corey Stoll gives a solid turn as the conniving Wall Street archetype, while Édgar Ramírez makes mining sexy again as maverick geologist Michael Acosta. Bryce Dallas Howard is ultimately a little wasted as Wells’ shunned girlfriend Kay, and the general lack of female characters in the film is certainly irritating. Unfortunately this issue is overshadowed by the time the credits have rolled, and Gold has failed to deal with the morality of the whole story.
Sure, it’s fun to watch Wells (who it must be said is played to sleazy perfection by a pot-bellied and greasy Matthew McConaughey) go toe to toe with Wall Street as they try to steal his pot of gold out from under him. The ups and downs of his rise and fall make for a compelling film – but given that he’s making his fortune at the expense of an underpaid Third World workforce, Gold ultimately leaves a nasty aftertaste.
While Gold does pick apart the downfalls of Wells’ obsession, it misses a beat by avoiding the ethical implications of Third World profiteering. The film has a funny streak a mile wild – but a lot of this humour is undercut when the gags keep coming, and the reality check doesn’t.
CAST: Matthew McConaughey, Toby Kebbell, Rachael Taylor, Bryce Dallas Howard
DIRECTOR: Stephen Gaghan
WRITERS: Patrick Massett, John Zinman
SYNOPSIS: Kenny Wells (Matthew McConaughey), an unlucky businessman, teams up with geologist Michael Acosta (Édgar Ramírez) to find gold deep in the uncharted jungles of Borneo, Indonesia.