What it's about:
Based very loosely on true events, a gold prospector, desperate for one more chance at striking it big, joins forces with a geologist to find gold in the jungles of Indonesia. Is what they find there, however, to good to be true?
What we thought:
Though a step up from the last movie starring Matthew McConaughey as a man in search of gold (the pretty but stupidly vacuous Fool's Gold), Gold takes one part Romancing the Nile (minus the romance), one part The Wolf of Wall Street and one part, oddly enough, Fool's Gold and churns out something hopelessly and profoundly mediocre.
McConaughey himself is pretty great, of course, as the “McConaussence” shows no sign of slowing down, especially when he eerily but presumably unintentionally channels his former True Detective co-star, Woody Harrelson, but he's the only remotely notable thing about a film that resolutely refuses to leave a mark. He is aided by a bang up make-up job that turns this, shall we say, rather good looking man into someone impressively repulsive but really, props to the guy for putting this much effort into something that is nowhere near deserving of all his hard work.
The first half of the film is just a total bore as we are introduced to a bunch of utterly uninteresting characters, doing uninteresting things in utterly uninteresting ways that shifts from the grey sterility of a Big City office to the wilds of Indonesia without ever shifting tone, thereby turning what is ostensibly supposed to be the film's Big Adventure set piece into something about as interesting as doing your taxes – if significantly less tense.
Things do admittedly start picking up considerably in the latter sections of the film where – spoiler, but really not a spoiler – things go really well and then really badly for our less-than-trustworthy protagonist (seriously, if you've ever seen a movie before, you know exactly where this is going) but, even then, this is never anything more than the bland, warmed-up leftovers of the Wolf of Wall Street.
The impressive supporting cast gets less than nothing to do with poor Bryce Dallas Howard getting especially shafted as McConaughey's character's stereotypically ditzy wife. She does OK with whatever the role demands of her but her character is one of the most shallow and uninteresting parts in a film that never even tries to get out of the murky-green shallow end.
As for what the movie is about, there's little here that I don't disagree with but, again, when you have something as visceral and as decadent as Scorsese's Wolf of Wall Street released in just the last few years, who really cares about a film that does little more than pay begrudging lip service to its “greed is bad” morality, while never even bothering to commit to showing how anyone would think otherwise in the first place? Wolf of Wall Street was criticized for revelling just a bit too much in the debauched lifestyle it depicts but, oh, what I would give for just a bit of raunch to liven up this anaemic slog.
You know, I take it back, this is as bad as Fool's Gold – it just happens to feature a Matthew McConaughey at the top of his game, rather than right at the very bottom. Make of that what you will.