Cash may be king, but gold is the true sign of royalty. It’s simple; the more gold a person has, the wealthier they are. Gold is a story of wealth and more importantly greed. Inspired by true events, the film follows follows the rise mining businessman Kenny Wells, played by Matthew McConaughey, as his dreams of hitting the golden motherlode come to fruition. It’s an interesting story with some good performances, but there are a few imperfections in its shine.
The mining industry can be a fickle business. One lucky decision on where to drill can bring untold riches of ores. Conversely, a couple of bad locations can completely bankrupt a business. Kenny Wells has been riding a string of bad decisions lately and in a last ditch effort decides to pawn what little jewelry he has left and travels to Indonesia to meet with geologist Michael Acosta (Édgar Ramírez), who has a radical theory of where to drill next. The two decide to team up and when things look like they’re about to go bust they hit what could be considered the biggest gold deposit in history. Investors and their deep pockets are now flooding to their doors in order to get a piece of the pie while Kenny and Michael live their newfound life of luxury.
Matthew McConaughey delivers a solid performance as Wells who dreams of striking it rich and will do whatever it takes to get there. Like Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street, he sells his passion to others and convinces them to do business with him despite the high stakes. The promise of gold is simply too high. Unlike The Wolf of Wall Street he someone you truly root for. You want to see him be successful. As he says in the film after turning down a $300 million buyout offer, he’s “not in it for the money but for the gold. There’s a difference.”
He still reaps the benefits of the money, however, and I would have liked to see the film further explore why he cares more about his mining business and establishing a legacy rather than just striking rich. Greed gets the best of him as he leads a lavish lifestyle. He leaves his longtime girlfriend Kay (Bryce Dallas Howard) for a younger and prettier woman. There are moments where you can see the good in Wells shine through, but they are fleeting. Having more of them would have made his eventual downfall all the more impactful heartbreaking.
The third act of Gold reveals that Acosta falsified the findings of their mine in Indonesia and that there really was no gold to be found as he disappears with millions of dollars, leaving Wells to handle his now bankrupt business and FBI fraud investigation. The underrated Toby Kebbell plays the lead agent questioning wells, and I would have loved to see more of him and more of the fallout from the fraud. With so much attention being given to the creation and rise of Wells’ mining company, the end feels a little rushed.
Gold is good, but lacks any defining qualities that would make it great. Matthew McConaughey’s performance is enough to draw you in but the story lacks any complexity in the characters to keep you interested for its entire two hour running time. There are some little flakes of good ideas, though. Just not enough to be worth its weight in gold.