Sunday, April 30, 2017

Video review: "Gold"

Matthew McConaughey goes Full Skeeze in “Gold,” a little-seen drama that came out near the end of 2016 and didn’t generate the awards buzz hoped for.

He plays Kenny Wells, a has-been/never-was mining prospector at the end of his rope who stumbles across a massive gold deposit in the deepest jungles of Indonesia. The story is loosely based on David Walsh, CEO of Bre-X, whose gold strike was found to be fraudulent back in the 1990s. Tens of billions of dollars in company value went up in smoke overnight.

McConaughey, not long removed from the skeletal figure he struck in his Oscar-winning turn in “Dallas Buyers Club,” spreads an impressive middle-aged paunch to go along with a scanty head of hair, hollow eyes and a mouthful of crooked teeth. Kenny is perpetually sweating and shifty-eyed, the sort of guy who makes others uncomfortable just by walking in the room.

As the story opens, his company is about to go belly-up. His long-suffering girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard) seems to have half a foot out the door. But Kenny learns about Michael Acosta (Edgar Ramirez), a geologist who’s come up with a new system for finding mineral deposits that the rest of the industry has scoffed at.

Crabbing together his last few bucks and corralling a few investors, they do some exploratory drilling deep in the bush. Soon they’re just about out of money, the local workers flee the mine and Kenny nearly succumbs to dysentery. But his faith in Michael is unshakeable and, improbably, it bears fruit when soil samples reveal gold.

Soon the big moneymen (Corey Stoll among them), who had previously written off the flimflam man, come begging for some of the crumbs to fall from Kenny’s plate. And Bruce Greenwood plays the cutthroat competitor maneuvering to take it all away.

Directed by Stephen Gaghan (“Syriana”) from a script by John Zinman and Patrick Massett, “Gold” barely made a ripple at the box office. But it’s a worthy film, if a bit overly familiar in its themes, cemented by McConoughey’s fully invested performance.

Inside every slick Wall Street high-roller, like the one McConaughey played in “Wolf of Wall Street,” there’s a hungry scrounger fighting for wealth and respect.

Bonus features are pretty good, and are the same for Blu-ray and DVD editions. They include one deleted sequence, feature commentary by director Gaghan and three making-of featurettes: “The Origins of Gold,” “The Locations of Gold” and “Matthew McConaughey as Kenny Wells.”


Extras: B

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