Following 2013's "The Wolf of Wall Street" and "99 Homes", and "The Big Short" in 2015, comes this year's rags to riches finance movie. Set in the 80s, "Gold" is similarly inspired by a true story. Matthew McConaughey stars as Kenny Wells - the son of a very successful precious metals broker, who inherits the family business, but has a hard time striking it rich like his dad. Desperate, he persuades explorer Michael Acosta (Edgar Ramirez) to journey with him deep into the jungles of Indonesia in the hopes of literally striking gold.
The set-up, which dominates the first half hour, is the slowest section of the film - interesting to those involved in or intrigued by the world of money and commodities, but maybe a little dull for everyone else. But once Wells and Acosta reach their destination and actually find some "buried treasure", "Gold" gets flowing, and becomes an engaging and, at times, fascinating look at how riches can instantly - and drastically - change someone. Plus, there's the drama that comes with the chance of losing it all.
Bryce Dallas Howard does solid work as Kenny's wife, Kay, and Ramirez has some stand-out moments. But this is McConaughey's movie. And it's not a one-trick pony performance. Just as he did with his Oscar-winning role of Ron Woodroof in "Dallas Buyers Club", McConaughey pours barrels of energy, gravitas and emotion into Wells, who we admire, dislike and feel sorry for all at the same time.
"Gold" is less complicated and therefore has much more mass appeal than the other recent financial films. What director Stephen Gaghan ("Syriana") has given us isn't pure 24K. But with a commanding lead and one of the best surprise endings of the year, this is definitely a film worth investing time on.