If you would like to read more about the story in which it was based, click here. This was billed to be a big contender come awards season but in reality was just disappointing. The disjointed and badly paced story made it difficult to ever get invested in the story despite Matthew McConaughey’s performance. (original review)
Synopsis: An American businessman named Kenny Wells, who has driven his family’s mining company into the ground, tries to reverse his fortunes by prospecting for gold in the jungles of Indonesia. With the help of an experienced geologist named Michael Acosta, Wells actually manages to unearth a massive gold deposit, but he is soon forced to protect his find from ruthless Wall Street traders. (Rovi)
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Edgar Ramirez, and Bryce Dallas Howard.
Writers: Patrick Massett and John Zinman.
Director: Stephen Gaghan
Rating: 14A (Canada)/R (United States)
Running Time: 121mins
In terms of films based on true stories, there was nothing new here. Gold prospector Kenny Wells (McConaughey) is down on his luck. He so desperately wants to make it big and continue his family’s name. Despite outside opposition, Wells gets a chance as he and Michael Acosta (Ramirez), his geologist partner, manage to find a gold deposit within the jungles of Indonesia.
The promise of one of the biggest gold finds in history looked to make them and all their investors a lot of money but would it last? Their newfound success attracted the attention of Wall Street, giving Wells and Acosta another group to contend with. They seemed to not care about what was going on as long as they were making money. Wells was inexperienced and overprotective of his discovery which may have cost him when dealing with the Wall Street investors.
The other person in Wells’ life was his girlfriend Kay (Howard). They were close and he wanted to be there for her to provide the life she wanted but as his success grew, they started to drift apart. She knew what was going on but his passion, or greed, blinded him from the truth. Wall Street eventually got to them but as quickly as they lost the mine, they managed to get it back.
He and his company, Washoe Mining Corp, struck it rich until it was discovered that it was all based on a lie. The film, which partially narrated by Wells, were his account of what happened to an FBI agent named Paul Jennings (Toby Kebbell). He came in as soon as it was revealed that their gold discovery wasn’t really a gold discovery as test samples were doctored by Acosta for unknown reasons. He may have been making up for something from his past but his motivations weren’t the most clear.
This was when the film began to fall apart as it showed how disjointed the film was as its parts didn’t quite fit together. The film also suffered from some pacing issues as the story time jumped in time early on, taking some context away from Wells’ motivations. It was also felt slow and fast at times, glossing over important scenes and spending too much time during others. The film was a story about overcoming adversity and achieving the American dream but it barely told a story as it glossed over most of it. Refer to the link above for the real story.
The acting was very good here with McConaughey being the standout. He commits to the role of Wells with his drastically different appearance and provides the personality to match. He gave it his all, bringing tons of energy to the role. Ramirez and Howard were also good in underdeveloped roles. The film failed to explore Acosta’s backstory which took away the impact of what he did later on. Kay was unnecessary as the supporting girlfriend but she gave Wells a reason to succeed.
Overall, this was an okay drama whose good performances don’t quite make up for its lack of a compelling story.