Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Movie Review: "Gold" (2017)

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Director: Stephen Gaghan
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours, 1 minute

Down on his luck prospector Kenny Wells (Matthew McConaughey) is looking for the next big strike. He teams up with a similarly situated geologist named Mike Acosta (Edgar Ramírez) and funds an expedition into Indonesia that could lead to the biggest gold strike in a decade. 

"Gold" is directed by Stephen Gaghan, who is best known for his film "Syriana." It is written by Patrick Massett and John Zinman. It stars Matthew McConaughey as Kenny Wells, the prospector and owner of Washoe Mining company. Down on his luck and desperate for a strike, Wells, after a crazily informative dream, goes into a partnership with geologist Mike Acosta, played by Edgar Ramírez, who has a hypothesis about the possible location of a would-be gold mine. After Wells rounds up investors for financial backing, the two head into the jungles of Indonesia and begin searching for gold. Just as it seems all is lost and with Wells hanging by a thread and infected with malaria, the two discover they may be sitting on the biggest gold strike of the past decade.

"Gold" is a fictional story inspired by the true events surrounding the Bre-X mining company. Despite being a fictional story, there is a lot of overlap, and we recommend waiting until after you see the film to look up anything on Bre-X in order to avoid spoilers. Matthew McConaughey puts on a great performance as the obnoxious, somewhat sloppy, chain-smoking, heavy drinking, luckless dreamer Kenny Wells. He even gained a lot of weight and shaved part of his head for this role, donning an unflattering appearance in the hopes of what we can only assume was Oscar gold. Unfortunately for McConaughey, this performance didn't wind up in a better film. Even beyond McConaughey, the acting is good. Bryce Dallas Howard does a fine job as Kenny's girlfriend Kay, the gum chewin', jeans wearin' waitress who supported him and loved him long before he made it, though her role is much less substantial than Edgar Ramírez's or Matthew McConaughey's. Speaking of Ramírez, he has been steadily getting better as an actor over the last few years, and his performance here is fine.

It's not that "Gold" is a bad film. It really is an okay watch. It has many good and even great elements, but these individual elements are better than the whole of the movie itself. Liberties are taken in the name of dramatics, which is fine with us. It has a strong first act and an excellent third act. However, as soon as the second act begins, right smack dab in the middle of the film, there's a huge, spacious, dull lull that just kind of drags along until the zinger of an ending. It also doesn't help that the characters aren't exactly the most likable bunch of people to ever grace the silver screen. Kenny Wells is meant to be this blue collar dreamer infiltrating a white collar world, but his attitude is often off-putting and selfish. It's a skosh unscrupulous and a tad bit boring with a dash of American dream and a hint of American nightmare.

In the end, "Gold" has poor pacing but is bolstered slightly by its solid acting. Though it's watchable, it isn't exactly all that memorable.

My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 40%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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