"No spoilers because the big hook of the film is this curious dread the audience feel as Kenny’s venture goes from good to better to best and you wonder just how and why this story of triumph could possibly come crashing down"
Based on a true story prospector Kenny Wells (Matthew McConaughey) has gone from a serious player in a swanky office to a desperate hustler working out of a bar in just a few short years. Down on his luck and willing to try anything to turn it around on a whim and a dream he ventures to Indonesia in search of an old contact to try and persuade him to go for one big score.
The two of them team up to search the jungles for the perfect spot to dig and as soon as it seems they’ve found it they are dragged into the ruthless world that is the business of mining. Viewed as disposable small time hustlers by the big companies and exploitable by their rivals we see the story largely in flashback as Kenny is being interviewed by the FBI and we know something somewhere is eventually going to go very wrong.
No spoilers because the big hook of the film is this curious dread the audience feel as Kenny’s venture goes from good to better to best and you wonder just how and why this story of triumph could possibly come crashing down around him. McConaughey is great as the hapless Kenny, clearly in over his head but also aware that he holds all the cards.
Kenny drinks too much, smokes too much and has what could comfortably be described as a loose grip on morality, but he is our hero and he is deep down a good person. Portraying this kind of deeply flawed but ultimately good character seems effortless to McConaughey and it’s what we’re all here for, and though the rest of the cast are far from slouching around, this is McConaughey’s show.
You can feel yourself willing Kenny to be a better person as the film plays out before you, desperately wanting him to rise to the top of the increasingly rotten garbage pile gathering around him. But this isn’t a perfect movie even if it is very close. Stylistically it’s lacking a little something in the direction and cinematography and there’s no real stand out “you have to see this” moment that a character led film like this kind of needs. It is well worth seeing though.