Director: Stephan Gaghan.
Screenplay writer-come-director Stephan Gaghan, famed for writing/directing Syriana and writing the screenplay for Traffic, gives us an incredible story based loosely on a true story that shook the financial world. It's based on the Canadian Bre-X scandal back in '93 but if you don't won't to ruin the film for yourself I suggest you steer clear of reading up on it until after you've seen the film.
What I can say about the story is that Kenny Wills, (McConaughey) is a mineral mining and after some lucid dream, he spends he last dollar on a treasure hunt in Indonesia in the hope to strike it rich, with the help of expert geologist Michael Acosta (Ramirez). It's actually a challenge to talk about plot without giving anything away and really, it's a film that just needs to be watched till the very end to fully appreciate it. Though not entirely original, it's certainly not predictable and has some pleasant surprises I wasn't expecting to see.
McConaughey has stated that this has been his favourite role to date and you can see why, he actually revels in the part that goes from desperation, a drink dependant egomaniac, knocking on death's door to an almost delusional, ambitious, and proud multi-billionaire. It's an amazing performance and yes, he gets his shirt off. But he really does away with his usual sex appeal image, the hair, that belly fuelled by cheeseburgers, beer and milkshakes and that attention drawing tooth!
Ramirez is as equally good, being very much at the other end of the spectrum, he plays the calm, quiet geologist with an enigmatic composure, you don't really know what he's up to most of the time and appears and disappears much like Batman on a stalk. The two of them compliment each other greatly, with strong brotherhood chemistry between them both, it's a golden partnership that's sure to succeed.
There's a good supporting cast, but unfortunately they all, only seem to appear in McConaughey's shadow. Bryce Dallas Howard as his supportive, faithful wife and Corey Stoll as the greedy Wall Street trader. Personal favourite, Toby Kebbell and a few other surprising faces show up, but none of which can steal the shine from McConaughey.
Brilliant score from Daniel Pemberton which covers a wide range of styles from the dreamy, ambient "Blue Skies" and "Golden Pickaxe" to the picking bass of the Ring of Fire pieces that suit a classic heist movie, all with a hint of latino flavour. Apart from the Rings of Fire, no two tracks are the same, each song telling its own story. There's also a good soundtrack with a surprising track from Iggy Pop, who performs the end credit song.
Gaghan gives impressive direction, really likely the use of focus. The film is lush, bright and captivating with good strong story telling. It's well paced but with a danger of getting lost or confused with the time hopping, it does all lead to a very good conclusion. There is a glimmer of something greater, other than gold here, an underlining message about what is true value, love and friendship without it getting to touchy feely.
I throughly enjoyed this film, more than I expected. McConaughey's shining performance, the story and how it unfolds but all that glitters is not gold.
Running Time: 9
The Cast: 10
Job Description: 10
The Extra Bonus Point: 0
Would I buy the Blu-ray?: Yes!