Matthew McConaughey has undergone another physical transformation to play the leading character in Gold–he’s balding, snaggle-toothed, and has a beer belly. But the reason this movie works so well is that we believe the his character from the inside out: a low-rent Nevada prospector who’s following in his father’s footsteps. He partners with mining engineer Edgar Ramirez and, miraculously, they find the biggest gold cache in years–and when the news gets out they are wined and dined by Wall Street heavy-hitters. They and their investors are going to make millions.

Writers Patrick Massett and John Zinman, who’ve written and produced TV series ranging from Friday Night Lights to The Blacklist, based their screenplay on real-life events which you can read about HERE–but don’t do so before you see the picture. The filmmakers have taken dramatic liberties but the allure of the story is apparent from the get-go. And while Edgar Ramirez, Bryce Dallas Howard, Corey Stoll, Stacy Keach and the other cast members are as good as you’d expect, it’s McConaughey who carries the emotional weight of the story on his shoulders. He’s got gold fever and doesn’t care who knows it. He’s like a Reno gambler who can’t walk away from the table while he’s ahead.

At one point he tries to explain that it’s the thrill of the chase and the exultation of a once-in-a-lifetime gold strike that fuels his passion, not the money. And he means it. We follow McConaughey on a wild roller-coaster ride and vicariously experience the heady highs and soul-crushing low-points in this colorful yarn.

Director Steven Gaghan, who won an Oscar for writing Traffic and went on to write and direct Syriana, has been laying low in recent years, but he does a first-class job bringing this story to life. The scenes at the mining site in Indonesia are as detailed and believable as the bar and lounge where McConaughey conducts business in Nevada.

Gold is as unpredictable as it is engaging—and another bull’s-eye for Matthew McConaughey.


Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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May 2024