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dir Stephen Gaghan
scr Patrick Massett, John Zinman
prd Teddy Schwarzman, Michael Nozik, John Zinman, Matthew McConaughey, Patrick Massett
with Matthew McConaughey, Edgar Ramirez, Bryce Dallas Howard, Corey Stoll, Toby Kebbell, Bruce Greenwood, Stacy Keach, Bill Camp, Joshua Harto, Timothy Simons, Macon Blair, Craig T Nelson
release US 25.Dec.16, UK 3.Feb.17
Strike it rich: McConaughey and Ramirez
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
Based on a true story, this fast and edgy adventure centres on a man who simply refuses to give up on his dream, no matter what kinds of obstacles life throws at him. Even if the film sometimes seems to get bogged down in details, this is an incredible story packed with unexpected twists and turns that keep the audience on its toes.
In 1988 Reno, fast-talker Kenny (McConaughey) is tenaciously trying to get funding for a project he has been nurturing for nearly a decade to find gold in Indonesia. Kenny's wife Kay (Howard) stands by him, even though they're on the verge of losing everything. Travelling to Jakarta, Kenny pitches his project to the dubious Michael (Ramirez), who takes him into head-hunters' territory. And when they find gold, everyone wants a piece of the action. But just as they strike it rich, the FBI brings their operation crashing down.
Balding and overweight, McConaughey has a great time in the role of the larger-than-life Kenny, an optimist who simply knows there's gold in them thar hills despite the lack of evidence. It's a scenery-chewing role that's thoroughly entertaining. Opposite him, no one else has much of a chance, essentially because they're all just playing money-men in suits. The sparky Ramirez does manage to bring some earthy energy to Michael. And as the only proper female character, Howard is terrific, even after Kay is sidelined by the plot.
The film races through the story without pausing for breath. It's a series of big events, one after another, riding what seems to be an uncontrollable dragon as Kenny soars to decadent heights, is tempted by every kind of vice and danger, and remains unwavering in his passion even when things go horribly wrong. The story veers somewhat bewilderingly between giddy profits and nightmarish setbacks. And frankly, this series of outrageous events would be unbelievable if it wasn't true.
So even though the film feels rather superficial and gimmicky, the relentlessly positive energy goes a long way to helping the audience sympathise with and sometimes even like Kenny, who is awkward and often rather clueless about what's really going on around him. But his refusal to simply make a quick profit is properly inspiring. As he says, "If you sell your dream, what do you have left?"
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2016 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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