As a critic, I’m often asked, “Do you really stay ‘till the end of a movie, even if you know it’s not very good?” The answer is “Yes,” because you never can tell what surprises may surface – and that certainly applies to this twisted tale, chronicling the effects of greed and friendship. In 1988, paunchy, whiskey-guzzling Kenny Wells (almost unrecognizably balding Matthew McConaughey) inherited his family’s once-profitable Washoe Mining Corporation in Reno, Nevada. Read on…
But it’s failing, so Kenny works the telephones out of a local bar where his girl-friend (Bryce Dallas Howard) is a waitress.
Enter maverick geologist Michael Acosta (Venezuelan star Edgar Ramirez), who convinces Kenny that there’s gold, hidden deep in the steamy jungles of Borneo. Forming a handshake partnership, they set off for Indonesia, establishing an excavation site on the banks of a river, where Kenny comes close to dying of malaria.
When they find gold, perhaps the richest deposit of the 20th century, Washoe Mining stock soars. And if getting the gold was hard, keeping it proves to be even more difficult.
Suddenly, they’re pursued by a New York investment banker (Corey Stoll) and his competitor (Bruce Greenwood), along with a flirtatious financier (Rachael Taylor) and the Wells’ family’s previously-doubting banker (Stacy Keach). Everyone wants a piece of the action.
Adding to the chaos, there are complications with Indonesia’s corrupt Suharto regime.
Inspired by Canada’s 1990s Bre-X mining scandal, it’s superficially scripted by Patrick Massett & John Zinman (TV’s “Friday Night Lights,” “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider”) and unevenly directed by Stephen Gaghan (“Syriana”), who relies far too much on Kenny’s expository questioning by an FBI interviewer (Toby Kebbell).
Following “Sahara” and “Fool’s Gold,” this might be considered as the latest installment in Matthew McConaughey’s treasure-hunter trilogy – and certainly the least satisfying.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Gold” is a fraudulent 5, proving that following what glitters may have unintended consequences.