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Gold (Matthew McConaughey) - DVD Review

Gold

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

STEPHEN Gaghan struck film gold of his own when he made the brilliant thriller Syriana and he almost matches that success with his latest, Gold, only to be undone by some curious creative choices.

Based on a 1990s mining scandal that created a stock market rush and helped turn its prospectors into millionaires, the film boasts a genuinely intriguing premise and is capped by two strong performances from Matthew McConaughey and Edgar Ramirez.

But rather than exposing its central duo to any real critical scrutiny, and turning them into heroes, may leave a bad taste for those willing to delve deeper into the real story. While gripping, the film therefore still succumbs to the desire by Hollywood to make criminal endeavour seem much more glossy than it is.

Perhaps Gaghan thought Gold would be a thriller for the Wolf of Wall Street generation, when he should perhaps have made more of a cautionary tale about the corrosive nature of greed and trust.

Taken with this in mind, though, Gold is still a rollicking good yarn, which doesn’t deviate as far from the truth as some movies do.

McConaughey plays Kenny Welsh, a veteran mining engineer who has fallen on hard times, who dreams of actually finding gold in Indonesia. Spurred on by his ‘vision’, Kenny bankrolls an exploratory drill by famed copper mining geologist Michael Acosta (Ramírez), who eventually strikes it rich while Welsh is struggling to overcome an attack of malaria.

As their stock rockets, the banks get involved, with each new player looking to exploit the mine and its potential for their own ends – potentially at the expense of Wells and Acosta.

But just as it seems their dreams may be realised, a shocking revelation emerges that rocks Wells’ world.

For those who don’t know how this story pans out, it’s worth keeping the remainder of the film’s secrets intact. But Gaghan uses the premise to explore human nature and the often corruptive and self-destructive nature of pursuing the so-called American Dream.

He therefore makes Wells someone to root for, in spite of his many shortcomings, and McConaughey – all pot belly and balding hairline – invests him with a plucky charisma that keeps you riveted. Ramirez, for his part, is the calmer, more stylish member of the two – whose quietness belies his own inner turmoil.

McConaughey and Ramirez work well together, forging a believable friendship against the odds, that enables you to root for them, especially when the corporations become involved. There’s good work here, too, from the likes of Corey Stoll and Bruce Greenwood as the men on Wells’ trail… not to mention Toby Kebbell as a sympathetic FBI investigator and Bryce Dallas Howard, as Wells’ long-suffering girlfriend, whose sustained goodness may be enough to bring him back from the brink.

Gaghan, for his part, inspires a sense of sweaty desperation from the jungle scenes, while investing plenty of ’80s excess into the American segment, nicely juxtaposing the stark line between poverty and fortune and the reasons why the latter can be so alluring… and yet so far out of reach.

But a last-act salvation, of sorts, denies the film the kind of sobering, lasting impact of Syriana, in favour of something more crowd-pleasing but ethically skewed. Gold therefore shines brightly in places but ultimately robs itself of a richer lasting legacy.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 2hrs 1min
Digital Download: May 29, 2017
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: June 5, 2017

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