Rated R, 121 minutes
The well-acted new drama "Gold" has a handful of golden nuggets in its quest to find gold, but is hampered by an overlong, generic story. Based on the story of the Bre-X mining scandal in 1993, it features another transformative turn from Oscar-winner Matthew McConaughey ("Dallas Buyers Club"), who infuses some charm into the lackluster story.
Kenny Wells (McConaughey), a prospector desperate for a lucky break, teams up with a similarly eager geologist and sets off on an amazing journey to find gold in the uncharted jungle of Indonesia. Getting the gold was hard but keeping it is even more difficult, sparking an adventure through the most powerful boardrooms of Wall Street.
Directed by Stephen Gaghan ("Syriana" and "Traffic"), with a script by Patrick Massett and John Zinman, the modestly engaging but formulaic "Gold" has an intriguing premise that becomes parts of movies we've seen and enjoyed more: part "Treasure of the Sierra Madre" mixed with "The Wolf of Wall Street" (which interestingly, also features McConaughey in a role to this one) and all ending rather predictably.
The chief reason to see "Gold" is the memorable performance from McConaughey as Wells, which based on late businessman David Walsh, who played a key role in the Bre-X mining scandal. His folksy charm is on full display, again getting down and dirty, changing his looks: he gained 40 pounds for the role, partially shaved his head, and wears some awfully crooked, yellow teeth here. McConaughey, who also co-produced, has the ability to make the film's material better (he's done so several times, including "Dallas Buyers Club" and "Mud"), and his gritty turn here - he perfectly imbues the hunger and desperation of a businessman needing good luck - is more valuable than "Gold" itself.
McConaughey receives solid support from Edgar Ramirez ("The Bourne Ultimatum"), as his mining partner and gold expert Michael Acosta, along with Stacey Keach as a business partner and Corey Stoll as a shady investor. Unfortunately wasted is Bryce Dallas Howard ("Jurassic World"), who's given little to do here in a sexist part but answer phones and walk around in high heels.
"Gold" starts out well but loses some steam in the overlong and uneven middle act; Gaghan could've tightened up and summarized some of the sequences of partying and potential investors coming board, but it picks up with a couple of nice twists and turns in the last act. It's also helped by the nice photography, filmed on location in Thailand from "There Will Be Blood's" Robert Elswit, along with a haunting musical score from "Steve Jobs'" Daniel Pemberton.
An intriguing premise and a memorable turn from its charming lead actor would normally be a golden ticket to awards and a mountain of box-office receipts, and while "Gold" has a few nice golden deposits, it's not enough to make an invaluable necklace or ring hoped for. Worth a look for a chubby McConaughey, who even with all that extra weight, still manages a nude scene.