GOLD is another a True-Life Corruption Scandal flick in the vein of American Hustle, The Wolf Of Wall Street and The Big Short, but, as mined by its writing and direction, this 2016 adventure drama doesn’t pan out with the emotional investment riches of those gems, despite lots of hard work separating elements. The linchpin performance from a zealously committed Matthew McConaughey is for sure a shining nugget, genuine ore, but in a way that oddly mimics its story, the promise, processing, arrangement and delivery of the final product comes up synthetic.
With numerous liberties, it’s about the 1993 Bre-Ex gold mining scandal, when a giant find in the jungles of Borneo spun into a colossal market fraud with international implications, one tendril even lapping at a former American President. The real story is even wilder than the one scripted, which changes names, combines characters and moves locales. Directed by Stephen Gaghan, it surges without pause over 120 minutes, is well photographed and scored, and the actors are all on target.
McConaughey scarfed on 45 pounds, used prosthetic teeth and cropped up bald to further submerge player to protagonist, and he burns with zeal. Unfortunately, his boasting, chain-smoking, booze-gulping tyro doesn’t generate much sympathy, and the secondary roles, while performed well, are likewise of fleeting grip: even with the novel situation (the wilds of Indonesia) the descent into excess is such a well-trampled (mined) trail that you remain at an emotional remove from all the bustle. It does have a zinger of a wrapup.
Shooting in touchy Indonesia was out, so Thailand served as stand-in, though anyone who’s been there knows that Bangkok can’t pass for Jakarta. Obviously, a lot of money was spent, but a fumbled release and mediocre reviews only brought in a trifling $7,000,000, a twist of weird poetic justice for a movie about financial shenanigans resulting from great effort.
With solid work from Edgar Ramirez, Bryce Dallas Howard, Corey Stoll, Bruce Greenwood, Stacy Keach, Craig T. Nelson, Adam LeFevre and Bill Camp.