“It’s another true story time”, sorry, I should say; “it’s based on a true story time as”…wait what? What do you mean there’s no story to base it on? But it says at the beginning? The film’s producers have denied it is in anyway connected to the story it appears to resemble so closely? So…what am I meant to say here? This is my “witty intro” bit? Ah bollo*#!…
Gold does, or doesn’t, tell the story, or have its story based on, the 1995 Canadian Bre-X scandal, depending on your point of view. Gold resembles the Canadian story very much, however I don’t think those involved in the Bre-X scandal particularly wanted the story plastered around movie screens and so Gold had to change various things, like names, to protect the…well, people involved.
What Gold does tell the story of is prospector Kenny Wells, played by Matthew McConaughey (Free State of Jones, Killer Joe), who hasn’t had a mining break for some time and has run his father’s company into the ground trying to find one. In a drunken, drugged up stupor he has a dream and sets off to Indonesia to find Michael Acosta, played by Edgar Ramirez (The Bourne Ultimatum, Zero Dark Thirty), a down-on-his-luck geologist.
Together, the pair drill and drill until hitting gold, one of the biggest finds of the decade (the film has been moved to the eighties). However, all is not as it seems, but is it a case of fools gold or are they fools playing with gold?
Patrick Massett and John Zinman (both known for: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Friday Night Lights) are the writers of Gold with Stephen Gaghan (Syriana, Metro) the man behind the camera. What they’ve written is something that could have been very good, very good indeed. The problem is, it is four years too late. You see, Gold has all the trade-marks of The Wolf of Wall Street, heck even McConaughey’s performance isn’t a million miles away from his performance as Mark Hanna.
But, where Gold fails is where The Wolf of Wall Street excelled. Gold has none of the pace, none of the exuberance of TWoWS and the characters aren’t as big nor as brash, but you get the impression they’re trying to be. McConaughey is good as Kenny but we know he can do these roles in his sleep now, he’s no need to prove this sort of role anymore and I didn’t see an awful lot new here. The stand-out person for me in Gold is actually Kenny’s girlfriend Kay, played by Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World, Pete’s Dragon).
Howard’s transformation is superb, up until I checked who it was I couldn’t quite place it. This is probably the best performance I’ve seen from her. Ramirez is good as Acosta but he doesn’t get an awful lot to do, in fact not many of the other actors do. This whole thing is put on McConaughey but the character just isn’t there. You can’t say he’s fun, you can’t say he’s serious, he just drinks and smokes, makes some bad decisions and makes some good decisions. If anything, he’s a bit too human, it’s just that his decisions are much bigger than the ones we face.
The writers have also taken the opportunity, given they weren’t allowed to base it closely, or closer, to the Bre-X story, on adding a bit of Hollywood stuff. Such as a love interest to lure Wells away as he hits it rich, a buddy friendship of two guys down on their luck and a near death experience which doesn’t seem to go anywhere or be for much of a reason.
Gold is a tad over two-hours long and it feels like it, it’s slow, repetitive (mostly McConaughey drunk) and I didn’t care whether anyone got away with what they were doing or were involved in one-way or another. I suggest you read about the Bre-X story, which sounds much more interesting, but not worthy of a Hollywood remake either.
3rd February 2017
THE QUICK SELL
Gold does, or doesn't, tell the story, or have its story based on, the 1995 Canadian Bre-X scandal