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Saturday, January 28, 2017

Gold 2016 * * 1/2 Stars

GoldDirector: Stephen Gaghan
Year: 2016
Rated R
Rating: * * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Edgar Ramirez, Bryce Dallas Howard

A mediocre businessman and rattled, treasure prospector finds out that there might be gold buried deep in the jungles of Borneo (the largest island in Asia). That's the gist of 2016's Gold, my latest review.

Based loosely on true events (and I do mean loosely), Gold changes the names and places to protect the you know what (ha ha). It's a two hour film that gives you a story told once too often. It's rags to riches then back to rags again. It's also the rise and fall of the untrustworthy American dream. Are parts of Gold entertaining? Yup. Are parts of it fully compelling or invigorating? Eh, a little.

Anyway, Gold stars Matthew McConaughey in the titled character of Kenny Wells. Did he know he wasn't making an Academy Award winner here? Probably not. Regardless, McConaughey is fully committed to his part. Strutting like Les Grossman from his own Tropic Thunder and looking like Albert Finney when Albert played Ebenezer Scrooge, McConaughey dons false teeth, a receding hairline, an over dramatic sense of being, and forty pounds of extra weight. He then proceeds to chew scenery as if he were a canine staring down five T-bone steaks. Matthew's Wells chain smokes and drinks hard liquor in almost every scene in Gold. It's enough to get lung cancer and then have that cancer get cancer. No joke.

As for the rest of the cast, well Edgar Ramirez plays Michael Acosta. Acosta is a geologist and the veritable "straight man" to Kenny Wells. Ramirez seems to be in a lot more movies these days. I almost forgot about him completely after he appeared in 2005's Domino. Lastly, the gleaming Bryce Dallas Howard channels Kenny's longtime girlfriend Kay. She supports him and goes along with his plight before it gets out of hand. Howard comes off as a side trouper but still supplies plenty of eye candy. I dug her retro hair style. Believe that.

Image result for gold 2016 movie scenesNow Gold is set in the late 1980's yet it appears like it could have went down in the mid-70's. Heck, it's still a decent looking film all around. Indonesia appears lush from a helicopter (you could almost imagine Indiana Jones hiding in the background), Nevada is dusty and seedy, and New York is well, New York. Gold's music is by Daniel Pemberton. It sounds similar to something along the lines of trip hop master David Holmes (Holmes scored Ocean's Eleven and Out of Sight). Finally, the choppy editing by Douglas Crise gives Gold the distinction of having slight plot holes. Likewise, Gold supplies you with the feeling that it takes place over a decade when in fact, the happenings pretty much occur within a year's time (1988 to be exact).

All in all, Gold is hardly authentic (get it). It's a movie that might have made more of an impact had it come out fifteen years ago (that's just pure speculation). Nevertheless, it's emulation Scorsese and me-too Paul Thomas Anderson. It also contains remnants of 2009's Middle Men, Johnny Depp's Blow, and last year's War Dogs. If this appeals to you, then it might be worth a look. Still, it sure seems like an odd choice for director Stephen Gaghan. He won a screenplay Oscar for Traffic and got nominated for one with the critically acclaimed Syriana. His Gold is a tad too animated and/or satiric to be taken seriously. Bottom line: It feels like Gaghan might be a little above this material. Overall rating: 2 and a half stars.

Of note: During the last quarter of Gold, Matthew McConaughey's Wells has his picture shown on the front page of a newspaper. The headline actually reads, "Fool's Good". A subtle nod to McConaughey's nastily panned film of the same name? Perhaps. Either way, it's kinda funny.  

Written by Jesse Burleson

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