A rollercoaster story about greed, friendship, betrayal and a man willing to risk everything to live up to his father's legacy. Filled with emotional and financial ups, downs and whiplash-inducing turns, Gold is a wild and entertaining ride. 3.5 out of 5.
Matthew McConaughey is Kenny Wells, a man desperate to be worthy of his father and achieve the American dream. Kenny's a modern-day prospector on an ancient quest: he’s looking for gold in them there hills. But as Kenny will learn, finding gold is just the beginning: keeping it is the hard part. From the jungles of Indonesia to the boardrooms of Wall Street, Gold is an adventure of greed gone wild and the lengths some are willing to go to take home the motherload.
Forty pounds heavier than usual, with a balding head and bad teeth, McConaughey is not quite unrecognizable but certainly a far cry from the debonair dude in those car commercials. Like Michael Keaton in The Founder, McConaughey plays a man on the edge of disaster who finds success beyond his wildest dreams. Unlike Keaton's character, Kenny manages to hang on to enough humanity to (mostly) know and (sometimes) care that he's a narcissistic so-and-so. Kenny is often blinded by ego but he occasionally sees the light and is a better man for it. There are a lot of nuances to this character and it’s a satisfying performance. You know what else works? The ending. I won't spoil it, but it made me smile—and it cuts at the perfect moment.
All the wheeling and dealing can be hard to follow, sometimes because it's hard to hear through the profanity to get to the words that actually mean something and sometimes because it's just complicated. If Gold is to be believed, prospecting involves a lot of shouting into phones, which can also be difficult to follow, especially when several men are doing it at once. Regardless, the basic story is clear enough even if some details fall through the cracks.
Christian Worldview Elements / Spiritual Themes
Kenny claimed he went to sleep (after consuming excessive amounts of alcohol) and had a literal dream about where to prospect "like I was being called by the gold god." The source of that dream may be questionable, but it did lead Kenny to follow his dream—and remember, this is based on a true story. The ending—the one I like so much but refuse to spoil—does give rise to a moral dilemma that should make for interesting post-movie conversation. What would you do in that situation? The answer may be more problematic than it first appears,
CAUTIONS (may contain spoilers)
- MPAA Rating: R for language throughout and some sexuality/nudity
- Language/Profanity: The MPAA rating is spot on; there is language throughout, including sign language involving middle fingers. All the usual suspects are uttered several times, up to and including the f-word. The Lord's name is taken in vain several times; an employee is told by Kenny to stick so close as to be "riding shotgun on my jockstrap"; and there are a few lewd references to women's body parts. Also one racial slur against Italians.
- Sexuality/Nudity: Several times we're treated to the sight of Kenny in his underwear (and it's not a pretty picture). A couple lives together but is apparently not married; we see them in bed but their activities are more suggested than shown. There's some suggestive language about "fooling around." A woman tries to seduce Kenny. While bikini-clad teens are horsing around with young men in a pool, an older couple is naked and getting steamy in a hot tub and when the man gets out we see his bare backside—it's more funny than alluring. An angry man offers to bend over so business rivals can "f— me up the a—."
- Violence/Frightening/Intense: The business deals are more intense than any threatened bodily harm; they include a lot of strong feelings, shouting, throwing things, and foul language. Soldiers turn up in a threatening manner and one points a gun at a man's head. A man goes into an enclosure to stare down a wild animal. There's a semi-drunken fight and later a man punches another, knocking him to the ground.
Drugs/Alcohol: Kenny is rarely seen without a drink in his hand (or within reach) and a cigarette in his mouth. With the exception of the native workers at the mine, virtually everyone drinks all the time, something that’s particularly convenient during the times Kenny runs his business out of a bar.
The Bottom Line
RECOMMENDED FOR: People who enjoy movies about underdogs and the ups and downs of business. Viewers who like puzzle plots and riding on emotional rollercoasters. Business-minded folks who appreciate the art of high-stakes deals.
NOT RECOMMENDED FOR: Viewers looking for fluffier fare and less offensive language, or those so put off by greedy corporate types they can't enjoy the deals and double-crosses that make up much of the story.
Gold, directed by Stephen Gaghan, opened in theaters January 27, 2017; available for home viewing May 2, 2017. It runs 121 minutes and stars Matthew McConaughey, Edgar Ramirez, Bryce Dallas Howard, Macon Blair, Craig T. Nelson and Adam LeFevre. Watch the trailer for Gold here.
Susan Ellingburg spends most days helping to create amazing live events and most nights at the movies, at rehearsals, or performing with vocal ensembles in the Dallas area. This leaves very little time for cleaning house. A natural-born Texan, Susan loves all things British, Sunday afternoon naps, cozy mysteries, traveling with friends, and cooking like a Food Network star (minus the camera crew).
Publication date: January 26, 2017