Matthew McConaughey in Stephen Gaghan’s adventure film “Gold” delivers a bewildering yawn

Matthew McConaughey,Stephen Gaghan,Adventure film

In the pre-title sequence of “Gold,” Kenny Wells (Matthew McConaughey) is summoned to his father’s (Craig T. Nelson) office. Dad waxes eloquently about the family’s mining business. He says, “You work hard, sometimes for nothing.” And that line aptly describes “Gold,” a film that works very hard for nothing. The performers, McConaughey, especially — he reportedly gained 47 pounds for the role — work hard, for nothing. And the director, Stephen Gaghan (“Syriana”) also works hard, for nothing. Even audiences will work hard for nothing. “Gold” is inspired by a true story of Kenny Wells and the Bre-X case. The film recounts so many reversals of fortunes that viewers are likely to get whiplash — if they still care to follow the action in the last reel. The film opens in 1981 Reno, when Kenny is working for his father’s company, Washoe Mining. Kenny is such a slick operator that every time he drawls the words, “Washoe money,” it sounds eerily like he’s saying, “Watch yo’ money!” Given what happens to Washoe investors, you can’t say folks weren’t warned. Cut to seven years later, where the failing economy has Kenny operating what’s left of the family business out of a bar. He’s balding, potbellied and desperately looking for a mother lode. As his voice-over indicates, Kenny is living with his girlfriend Kay (Bryce Dallas Howard) and about to lose the house, too. But then Kenny, sleeping off half a gallon of Seagram’s, has a dream. He envisions the “ring of fire,” a huge, buried gold mine in Indonesia. His dream looks like a Sebastian Salgado photograph, with local men climbing ladders up hills (rather than going into pits) with sacks on their backs. And at the heart of his dream is Michael Acosta (Edgar Ramírez), an Indiana Jones-ish geologist who talks about geothermal hot spots while a woman massages him. Michael is the man — sauve, practical and smart. Kenny decides, he will be the money. Pawning the gold watch he gave Kay, Kenny travels to Jakarta to meet Michael. His beaming smile as he cabs to Michael’s hotel is meant to be infectious, but it comes off as a foolish grin. Kenny uses his rascally charm to purr seductively at Michael and convince him to go for the gold. But Michael is unmoved; he calls Kenny’s bluff, saying he will “make it work.” The two men soon head out into the jungle in search of that hidden treasure, the “ring of fire.” “Gold,” however, doesn’t really develop any genuine excitement in the scenes or between these two larger-than-life characters; the dynamic is too cool. That might deliberate...

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