Gold: Film ReviewCast: Matthew McConaughey, Bryce Dallas Howard, Edgar Ramirez, Stacey Keach, Corey Stoll
Director: Stephen Gaghan
All that glitters isn't necessarily Gold as director Stephen Gaghan (Syriana and the upcoming The Division movie) spins the "inspired by true events" story of Kenny Wells and his gold-digging exploits.
Matthew McConaughey dons a bald patch and a paunch to portray a city prospector who has a dream of where gold lies in Indonesia. (His character even reveals that the dream literally happened in one of the film's more average exposition dumps.)
Teaming up with Edgar Ramirez's geologist Michael Acosta, Wells sinks every last cent into the bore-ing dream. With it all about to hit the wall and when no backers come forward, Wells pulls together a bar-situated group of bankers to help mine for financial prospects.
However, against the odds, Wells and Acosta strike gold, changing all their lives forever.
Embracing shades of the David Walsh and Bre-X scandal and aspiring to be a sub-par Wolf of Wall Street via way of the American dream pursuit, Gold curiously lacks any real shine.
Its scenes of 90s-set excesses are pretty limp, and are devoid of any joie de vivre or fervour as the soundtrack pumps out some badly edited indie hits to try and inject a point of difference into proceedings in the execution of a story you've seen many times before.
It helps little that the main characters are severely underwritten.
Bryce Dallas Howard has an entirely thankless role as Wells' other half, written in only to show his distance from reality and to opine and provide an emotional storyline that withers on the vine; equally Ramirez's Acosta is a relatively dour enigma, prone to spouting serious aphorisms while gazing off into the distance.
McConaughey gives his all to the character of Wells, a man who's half shyster and half dreamer, all hard-smoking, hard-drinking and snaggle-toothed, trapped between the determination to honour his father's legacy and the gold fever that envelops the prospectors.
At times, it feels like McConaughey's acting rather than leading us down the path of empathy and there's little to latch on to as his plight plays out. But it's also symptomatic of how muted the rest of the cast of Gold is that his intensity feels, at times, like he's over-acting.
The Indonesian set bromance between Wells and Acosta comes some way to revelling in the extreme highs and utter lows of the mundanity of the mining world and giving the film an edge that it sorely needs, but they're never quite capitalised on to build much dramatic tension or excitement.
It's a shame because Traffic scribe Gaghan brings little life to the 90s pursuit of the American dream, and some split screen sequences are reminiscent of Dallas' opening titles. But there's little dramatic flair on show here in a story that's unleashed very by the numbers and perfectly serviceable as it meanders and tries to rip off The Wolf of Wall Street.
There's a nugget of a fascinating story here in Gold, a tale that's been mined many times before and with varying degrees of success. But when all is said and done, and stripped of the energetic filibuster of its lead actor, it's buried in an underwhelming haze of disinterest as the two hours play out.