Gold is based on a true story. While it may be set in the '80s, instead of the '90s, change a few names and conjoin a few characters... the essence of the story lives on in this film about hitting the big time. Gold is something of a character portrait, blending adventure, entrepreneurship and biographical drama to tell the rags-to-riches story of down-on-his-luck prospector, Kenny Wells. Acting on a vision, he finds himself partnering with a geologist on a promising mining expedition in the jungles of Indonesia.
Matthew McConaughey outplayed Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street, a Scorsese film that made McConaughey seem better suited to the titular role in a scene that was just too brilliant to leave out. While he ultimately won an Oscar for a transformative and career-best performance in Dallas Buyers Club, this chapter of his acting career wasn't over. In fact, it seems as though McConaughey's character in Gold is modeled or loosely inspired by these two performances. Carrying the audacious spirit and energy of his performance in The Wolf of Wall Street and mixing it with the drastic body transformation he underwent for Dallas Buyers Club, it boils down to Kenny Wells, an ambitious, balding and overweight self-starter.
No dream is too big for Wells, whose exuberance, lack of finesse and physique make him an underdog, despite his Homer Simpson complex. He may be a clown to his contemporaries, but his fighting spirit and surprising charm earns him respect in the big pond. It's a joy to see McConaughey relish the performance, deftly lacing together the romance of jungle adventure and minefield of big business. He's not alone, accompanied by the enigmatic Edgar Ramirez and heart-on-her-sleeve Bryce Dallas Howard, who act as wings for his likable yet bolshie performance.
"We're going to be billionty rich!"
While the timeless themes, true story anchor and lead performance make Gold attractive and captivating, the screenplay and direction need polish. You get the impression the filmmakers were trying to make it look like it was filmed in the '80s for an added layer of authenticity. However, this just gives it a trashy overlay, which is accentuated by the shallow script. Perhaps they were going for something similar to The Infiltrator, which also leveraged a strong lead performance, a period setting, a true story and a gritty borderline trashy treatment. Unfortunately, while it aspires, it doesn't add up to the same level of entertainment value and seems like a missed opportunity.
Gold is tarnished by a lazy script, familiar notes and fairly uninspired direction. Yet, it's difficult to overlook Matthew McConaughey's transformation, his captivating full tilt performance, the incredulity of the true story and the entertaining yarn in all its flaws. Who doesn't want to watch a pulpy film about striking gold in a mysterious jungle and potentially realising your wildest dreams? Unfortunately, Gold makes this outlandish tale ordinary and mediocre.