Review by Jack Foley
HOLLYWOOD’S latest treasure hunting tale feels like a particularly foolhardy attempt to cash in on the success of films like Romancing The Stone, The Da Vinci Code and National Treasure. But with a lame story and a bunch of uninteresting characters the whole thing feels like a self-congratulatory fitness promo for Matthew McConaughey’s physique.
He plays Benjamin Finnegan, a roguish treasure hunter who has dedicated his life to finding a sunken treasure, known as the 18th Century Queen’s Dowry, that lies somewhere off the coast of the Caribbean. The hunt has even come at the expense of his marriage to Tess (Kate Hudson).
But on the day of their divorce, Ben discovers a vital new clue that re-ignites her interest and, with the help of a rich billionaire named Nigel Honeycutt (Donald Sutherland), sets about recovering the loot, all the while remaining careful to avoid the attentions of rapper-turned-gangster Bigg Bunny (Kevin Hart).
Directed by Andy (Hitch) Tennant, Fool’s Gold can’t seem to make up its mind about what it wants to be and flits unevenly between family-friendly romantic comedy and slightly more violent action-adventure. It’s notable for reuniting McConaughey and Hudson for the first time since How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days but it fails to recapture the same chemistry because the couple spend more time bickering than anything else. Time in their company is more annoying than pleasurable.
To make matters worse, McConaughey’s central character fails to endear himself to audiences because he appears hopelessly self absorbed the whole time – the innumerable shots of his naked torso merely adding to the feeling of self-indulgence. He acquits himself well during the big action sequences, but they come too late in the day to really enliven proceedings.
Nobody emerges from this fiasco with any credit, though, with the decision to lumber key members of the supporting cast with ridiculous accents indicative of the general messiness of the picture as a whole.
Donald Sutherland’s eccentric billionaire, for instance, is lumbered with a horrendous English accent, while Ray Winstone’s rival treasure hunter sports a similarly pathetic American drawl and Scottish actor Ewan Bremner struggles with a thankless Eastern European accent.
Other cast members merely conform to bland genre stereotype, such as Kevin Hart’s gangster rapper, or exist to irritate viewers even more, such as Alexis Dziena’s bikini-sporting bimbo billionaire’s daughter.
Quite how the film managed to make off with such a healthy US box office treasure trove is baffling. Fool’s Gold feels like a half-hearted experience that’s as pointless as it is overlong. Don’t be fooled into seeing it.
Running time: 112mins
UK DVD Release: September 1, 2008