There’s nothing quite as frustrating, as a five-star performance from your lead than a film that leaves you feeling so flat even an air pump couldn’t lift the air from underneath you. Unfortunately for Matthew McConaughey, Gold is filled with nothing but hot air that is not even worthy of a bronze.
Donning the balding sweep over and pot belly of 90’s true story Metal Magnet, Kenny Well’s, McConaughey ventures down into the mining scandal that swept the world when a ‘supposed’ Gold haul was discovered in the jungles of Indonesia. Its premise should have hit the big screen with gusto and intrigue; instead what we are left with is a story which skirts around the actual truth of the fraud with a lack of passion or urgency to bring that nugget of gold to its rightful home. This is down to the lacklustre script brought together by the film’s director Stephen Gaghan and co-writers Patrick Massett and John Zinman with only glimmers of a spark when McConaughey and Edgar Ramirez are allowed to charm sat around the corporate tables fighting it out for deal which not only shows them the money but also allows Well’s name to be clearly linked to the whole operation.
We are introduced to Well’s (McConaughey) in a form we know him well for, a charming ladies man, the son of a successful business who he inherits his business from before his amazing transformation into a man who has aged badly. Fuelled with an unhealthy passion to get rich by doing whatever it takes to get there. He teams up with the well-known geologist, Michael Acosta (Ramirez) in Indonesia both convinced they have found the spot where gold exists and their fortunes will change. After a period of Well’s on his death bed due to malaria Acosta announces they have found gold and everything changes.
Whilst Well’s sticks it out in Indonesia, his band of merry loyal men are left to run the business back home, looking for investors and the like in which brings that touch of comedy to a dull narrative. As interest grows and statistics rocket through the roof the men really hit gold with a listing on the New York Stock exchange. Money rolls, champagne bottles pop and the high life looms large for Well’s and his cautious wife played by Bryce Dallas Howard. It’s here that touches of Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street spring to mind as these scenes play out. However, it’s not till its final third that the big twist reveals itself and the story begins to liven up, almost too late to salvage this story.
McConaughey has proven himself on the big stage over recent years through putting his body through hell to play some extraordinary roles, Dallas Buyers Club springs to mind with his extreme weight loss and his portrayal of Well’s is no different, but reversed no one can fault him for his commitment to a role. The downside is teaming up with writers who simply do not do this ‘loosely’ based on a true story justice, Maybe they should have been offered a few nuggets of Gold to kick this picture into life.
Gold is out in cinemas January 29th.