There may be gold in them thar hills, but there’s no point in prospecting here, as there’s little or no precious ore in Stephen Gaghan’s film.


Jungle fever: Matthew McConaughey


After Killer Joe, Mud, Magic Mike and Dallas Buyers Club, Matthew McConaughey adds another sleazebag to his repertoire. In Gold he plays a desperate prospector down on his luck and just aching to reach both gold and glory. As Kenny Wells, McConaughey seems not to care about how he looks. Putting back the weight – and some – that he shed for Dallas Buyers Club, he struts around with his belly out and his head balding so convincingly that you can almost smell the sweat coming off him. Lucky for Kenny, however, he manages to get some people on his side, including geologist Michael Acosta (Édgar Ramirez) and they head for Indonesia looking for fame and fortune. However, all does not go well even though Kenny manages to get the guys on Wall Street interested and the stock market prices to hit the roof. Then complications ensue and, like the real Bre-X mining scandal on which the film is (loosely) based, there’s a far from happy ending.


You have to hand it to McConaughey as Kenny Wells for, even looking like hell, he has enough charisma to fool some of the people some of the time. That said, however, the fact that the real story has been changed and that the film was first announced in 2011, a lot has happened to it on the way to the screen and not in a good way, as it barely hangs together satisfactorily. Ramirez turns in a good performance as Acosta, a man of taste and worth, the total opposite to the shambling wreck that is Kenny Wells, albeit not as much fun. Bryce Dallas Howard as Kenny’s unforgiving partner has little enough to do, and although it’s good to see Stacy Keach and Craig T. Nelson even in minor roles, even they cannot add polish to what is really tarnished gold.




Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Édgar Ramirez, Bryce Dallas Howard, Corey Stoll, Toby Kebbell, Bill Camp, Joshua Harto, Timothy Simons, Craig T. Nelson, Stacy Keach, Bruce Greenwood, Macon Blair, Adam LeFevre, Frank Wood, Michael Landes, Rachael Taylor.

Dir Stephen Gaghan, Pro McConaughey, Patrick Massett, John Zinman, Teddy Schwarzman and Michael Nozik, Screenplay Zinman and Massett, Ph Robert Elswit, Pro Des Maria Djurkovic, Ed Douglas Crise, Music Daniel Pemberton, Costumes Danny Glicker.


Living Films/Black Bear Pictures/Highway 61-StudioCanal.

121 mins. USA. 2016. Rel: 3 February 2017. Cert. 15.