In a span of films that ran from the fairly decent "Lincoln Lawyer" to the sci-fi thriller "Interstellar, Matthew McConaughey a a run of films that earn him the right to be called a serious actor. The pinnacle was winning a Best Actor Oscar for his role in the "Dallas Buyers Club". He seemingly had abandoned crappy films like "Ghost of Girlfriends Past" and "Fool's Gold" and steered his course toward better films.


Then came "The Free State of Jones" and this film, "Gold". Now you wonder if he might be taking himself a bit too seriously, after all, both films a based on actual people though "Gold" is more loosely.


McConaughey's character> Kenny Wells, is loosely based on John Felderhof of the Bre-X gold scandal in the 1990s. In that, Felderhof convinced Canadian investors to sink millions into a gold mining site in the dense Indonesian forest, that he claimed was worth billions. Of course, it turned out it wasn't and Canada wound up changing it's mining laws because of the fraud.

In director Stephen Gaghan's version, the names have been changed as well as quite a few facts and the film seems pieced together as Wells is now the struggling inheritor of a mining company built by his dad (Craig T Nelson). As with most family corporations, the first generation built it and the second generation blew it. We find Wells a pot-bellied loser without a clue as how to make the company profitable again.


That is until he finds out about a legit geologist named Mike Acosta (Edgar Ramirez) who tells him of a fortune in gold buried in the forest, all he needs to do is go find it and they'll be rich. Excited and ready to make a fortune, an ill prepared Wells sets out with his new BFF into the malaria infested woods and, after developing malaria, strikes gold.


And lost of it. So much so, that the Indonesian government wants in on it (that part pretty much stayed withe the facts). Well, the stock markets get involved as the companies valued increased dramatically based on a few smattering samples. Then came the FBI, which is always there to mess up your wet dream.

Suddenly, the film turns into that episode of Gilligan's Island in which Gilligan dream he found gold and no one believes him because he can't find the assayers receipt. It is my understanding that episode was loosely based on "The Treasure of Sierra Madre" which would be a stretch.


McConaughey does what he does best, he puts himself in to a difficult role and puts "it" out there. The "it" in this case is a horrible make-up job that has him balding and fat. It would love to know who made that critical decision.


Bryce Dallas Howard plays his level headed wife who he leaves back home in Nevada while he goes out to get in trouble. For what it's worth, she should have some how been featured more since the story was altered so much anyway. The same could be said about Ramirez whose character, after they do their exploration, pretty much fades to black as the schemers and connivers take over.


Unlike Gaghan's other two writing masterpieces - "Syriana" and "Traffic" - his attempts to embellish the facts merely drag the film down.


"Gold" is a film that initially looks like 24 carat but after further examination turns out to be pyrite. Matthew McConaughey's performance will nearly make you overlook the confused writing and the horrible make-up job.   -- GEOFF BURTON