Release Date: January 27, 2017
Director: Stephen Gaghan
Writer: Patrick Massett, John Zinman
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Edgar Ramirez, Bryce Dallas Howard, Corey Stoll, Toby Kebbell, Bill Camp, Bill Camp, Joshua Harto, Timothy Simons, Craig T. Nelson, Macon Blair, Adam LeFevre, Frank Wood, Michael Landes, Bhavesh Patel, Rachael Taylor, Stacy Keach, Bruce Greenwood, Vic Browder, Dylan Kenin, Ben Whitehair, Stafford Douglas, William Sterchi, Jacob Browne, Art Tedesco
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 121 minutes
Production Company: Black Bear Pictures, Hwy61, Living Films, TWC-Dimension
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Thriller
How nice it would be to wake up in the middle of your dream job every day? It’d be amazing of course by all measures. I know I’ve had a job or two that I’ve despised, and others that had their pros. But to begin each day digging for gold can be that adventure you’ve only imagined. That was the case for prospector Kenny Wells (Matthew McConaughey), a man who’s as optimistic as can be. While his journey is inspiring, the story of how it unfolds isn’t as much. Even with his high praised film Syriana, I wasn’t expecting much from director Stephen Gaghan; but I at least wanted a balance within the narrative.
First impressions are long lasting, and the opening of this film must have skipped class that day. Gaghan’s attempt to show Kenny’s backstory started out with promise, but then you realized it didn’t serve any purpose and turned into nothing more than extra fluff. With this being based on a true story you have to accept it, but the delivery is all that matters. A seven year jump towards the future gives no real grasp of anything important, and I didn’t see its relevancy.
Kenny Wells was a man you hated to love. What’s interesting is early on his character went from a smooth talking seductive master to a smooth talking weasel that sweats poison. That’s how it appeared. Imagine looking at a drug addicted drunk, but you know he knows that he means business. It’d be a hard pill to swallow, but at least he’s after the money. This character shift took place over a number of years, but the film never addresses what made him that way. I’m not sure if there was some sort of mental breakdown, accident, or any random event that changed his ways. So you’re just left wondering what changed his demeanor. McConaughey played the role well. While appearing like a sloth rolling around in mud, you at least respected his passion to do the unlikely.
Not only did he roll around in mud, but so did the first act; bad intro, then a lift, only to fall back down. As you’re watching Kenny rev up for his adventure, the script is all over the place when he’s counseling himself. I couldn’t tell if he was dreaming, hallucinating, or if things were really happening. It would’ve been better to keep things nice and simple, but the director tries to be clever with the plot and creates a big mess. Not all is lost when Kay (Bryce Dallas Howard), his love interest, comes around. She lit up the room every time she entered to check Kenny when necessary. He had so much passion in regards to his work, and to see the motivation behind it all through Kay was uplifting.
So with the film stumbling right out the blocks, tripping over the first few hurdles, it gained some stride and finished the race strong. As the film progresses, and we’re getting to know more about the characters, the real fun starts to begin. Seeing Kenny act like an innocent little child trying to do good made you feel warm inside. A lot can be learned from this film in reference to friends, greed, and being prepared; but it doesn’t pop enough for me to go screaming praises from the roof tops.