Watching Gold, you can’t help but feel that every member of this production arrived with a different sense of what the final product would be. Stephen Gaghan is directing a fact-based procedural, Robert Elswit is shooting a psychological comedy-drama and Matthew McConaughey came overprepared for a madcap crime farce. The result plays out like American Hustle on NyQuil, a pointless exercise about nothing in particular that’ll have you wondering more about how they got McConaughey so convincingly bald than about the ethics of mining in the modern age.
R, 121 minutes
Violet Crown Cinema
The story jinxes itself by claiming to be inspired by true events. Let’s be serious: A movie is either factual enough that it warrants the disclaimer based on a true story or it is inspired by things that actually occurred but is a wholly original creation. The latter is not the badge of validity that the producers hope, but a way of convincing the audience to overlook things that don’t make any sense.
The “true events” in question are that of the Bre-X mining scandal of the early ’90s, where a Canadian business claimed to have struck gold in Indonesia but it was actually a massive fraud. If you remember this story from the news, you know exactly what the twist is. If you don’t, you’ll spend most of the film wondering why this particular story of a down-on-his-luck geologist battling Wall Street is supposedly so interesting as to warrant a whole film. The fictionalized protagonist is Kenny Wells (McConaughey), who is on the verge of bankrupting the mining company he inherited from his father. In a desperate move, he reaches out to the legendary Michael Acosta (Edgar Ramirez), who is convinced there is an undiscovered gold mine in Indonesia. Wells pulls every string he can, uses every last dollar to support Acosta’s dig and after waking up from a near-fatal case of malaria in the middle of the jungle, is informed by Acosta that they’ve struck the big time.
From here, it’s pretty much the same three scenes over and over again until the big twist. Wall Street wants a piece of the action, people celebrate when Wells tells them off, there’s a bump in the road that is almost immediately resolved, repeat. The Wells crew is a cast of colorful characters, but we never spend enough time with them outside of looking worried or popping champagne. Bryce Dallas Howard as Wells’ wife is utterly wasted, while Corey Stoll shows up and does his Corey Stoll thing as an untrustworthy Wall Street rep. Guess what his character tries to do? You’re right.
That’s about all the personality Gold has; when it’s not showing off McConaughey’s belly, it’s flailing in search of a reason to exist. It’s not funny. It’s not suspenseful. The characters don’t make any sense together (though McConaughey and Ramirez have great chemistry). The story has no point until it has a big one, and by then it’s far too late to save it. Don’t reward such an obvious attempt for Oscar nominations (its name is no accident), and skip Gold.
Playing this week
Regal Stonefield 14 and IMAX
The Shops at Stonefield, 244-3213
The Bye Bye Man, A Dog’s Purpose, The Founder, Hidden Figures, La La Land, Manchester by the Sea, Moana, Moana Sing-along, Monster Trucks, Passengers, Patriots Day, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, The Resurrection of Gavin Stone, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Sing, Split, XXX: The Return of Xander Cage
Violet Crown Cinema
200 W. Main St., Downtown Mall, 529-3000
20th Century Women, Hidden Figures, Jackie, La La Land, Manchester by the Sea, Patriots Day, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Silence, Split, XXX: The Return of Xander Cage