Back in the mid-nineties, a Canadian company named Bre-X suddenly became worth billions on the stock market, due entirely to prospecting results from a mine in Borneo. The scandal that followed cost hundreds of people their life savings and was one of the biggest cases of fraud ever recorded. The story was ripe for the Hollywood treatment, with all the elements of a great crime caper already plotted out. But has Hollywood taken advantage of a ready-made hit, or it is a miss?
The last couple years have seen a rise in the popularity of "true stories" made into Hollywood films. Matthew McConaughey has even starred in a few ('The Wolf of Wall Street,' 'Dallas Buyers Club'), but this one is different. Writers Patrick Massett & John Zinman and director Stephen Gaghan have taken the events and circumstances of the Bre-X scandal, but changed everything else. Has it paid off? I think it has, having enjoyed 'Gold' for what it was, and what it wasn't trying to be.
McConaughey's Kenny Wells is a corporate prospector fallen on hard luck. Having ruined his father's company, he's desperate to repair his reputation and fortune. He sinks the last of his funds into a plane ticket to Indonesia to convince renowned geologist Michael Acosta (Edgar Ramirez, 'The Girl on the Train') to help him find the next big gold deposit. Together they decide on a site, but initial samples aren't yielding results. Then things start to change, and before they know it, they're riding high on massive stock investments and have a company worth millions. But, as is the way with these things, the high doesn't last. How they fall isn't entirely unexpected, but not the cliché it could have been.
McConaughey acts the hell out of this role, and it's easy to see why he won an Oscar for 'Dallas Buyers Club'. Not only has he undergone another extreme physical transformation for the character, it's hard to watch him and still remember that there's an actor there. He inhabits the role so completely. This is his movie, and it's clear that McConaughey is cementing himself as no longer just the romantic leading man, but the leading man.
It's clear that McConaughey is cementing himself as no longer just the romantic leading man, but the leading man.
Supporting cast are all solid, particularly Ramirez as Acosta. There are no villains in this film, and considering what happened to the livelihoods of so many people, there should have been. Had Ramirez not been such a sympathetic character, then the villain would be obvious. He's not though, and as is the case with many a crime caper film, we find ourselves rooting for the thief.
The rest of the film is good. Not amazing, but good. Production value, soundtrack, directing are all perfectly acceptable. The thing with this film is that all of it is good, and that's all it's meant to be. It's an entertaining tale that interprets true events, but it's not meant to rock your world. But what does that mean for you, the punter wondering whether to spend your harder earned cheddar? My answer to that is that this isn't a film to spend $20 on at the movies, because while some of the rainforest vistas are lovely, they aren't worth the time and money to see them on a big screen. However, I would thoroughly recommend spending that $20 on the Blu-ray in a few months' time.