What is it about the quest for gold that drives men to do very foolish things? That’s one of the threads that runs through this caper-ish dramedy directed by Stephen Gaghan (Syriana).
Kenny Wells (Matthew McConaughey) is a third-generation Nevada-based mining man, but by the late 1980s, he’s reduced to buying up abandoned claims and trying to raise small-time investors. (How small? He works out of a bar.) So with his last few dollars, he tracks down Michael Acosta (Edgar Ramírez), who has a “nose” for finding valuable deposits. The pair picks a spot in the Indonesian jungle, and what luck — they hit gold! (Fun fact: After Sahara and Fool’s Gold, this is the third search-for-gold film that McConaughey has starred in.) The news makes the two big-time, with Wall Street investors and Indonesian political players jumping in. It’s all limos, champagne and good times, until it’s not.
Gold is entertaining enough, mostly because McConaughey and Ramirez are compelling actors; McConaughey (who gained weight and lost hair for this role) especially has done well lately playing charming rogue types, who are rough around the edges and morally wobbly. And there’s a retinue of hammy characters actors — Corey Stoll, Bruce Greenwood and Stacy Keach — to fill in the scenes; Bryce Dallas Howard gets stuck playing the cardboard role of Wells’ worried wife.
There’s some missed opportunity for sharpness — the comparison of pie-eyed prospectors with see-no-trouble Wall Streeters could have been better executed — and the dark comedy elements could have been cranked up. It’s the sort of movie that makes a perfectly pleasant at-home screening when stumbled upon on cable or Netflix, and thus, isn’t the worst way to spend some cash at the multiplex.