Movie reviews: Gold, Loving, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

Gold 4/5

Movie reviews: Gold, Loving, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

HELMING a once prosperous mining company now on the skids, American prospector Kenny Wells (Matthew McConaughey) goes for Gold (15A) in the remote jungles of Indonesia.

Betting all on the ‘ring of fire’ theory propounded by maverick geologist Michael Acosta (Edgar Ramírez), Kenny defies the odds to hit paydirt on ‘the largest gold find of the decade’. Or does he?

Stephen Gaghan’s film is loosely based on the events of the Bre-X scandal that erupted in Canada in 1997, when a multi-billion fortune was amassed on the back of an Indonesian gold-mine’s potential, and Gaghan — intentionally or otherwise — presents us with an intriguing conflict in themes, in which Kenny Wells is on the one hand celebrated as a plucky entrepreneur taking on the titans of Wall Street, but is also the personification of capitalist imperialism at its rapacious worst.

Like or loathe the character, Matthew McConaughey is in superb form as Kenny Wells, fully committed to his overweight, balding, sleazy, sweating creation, while Ramírez provides excellent support in an understated turn as the (ostensibly) more mature and cautious half of their partnership.

The storyline closely resembles that of The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), but despite being a rollercoaster tale of triumph, reversal, betrayal and despair, Gold never really hits the heights (or lows) of Martin Scorsese’s satire on naked corporate greed.

That said, if you succumb, as Kenny Wells did, to the ineffable but addictive allure of the precious metal, Gold is solidly entertaining throughout, and an aptly cynical tale for our times.

Based on a true story, Loving (12A) opens in Virginia in the late 1950s, when Mildred Jeter (Ruth Negga) falls pregnant to Richard Loving (Joel Edgerton).

When the couple marry they breach ‘God’s law’, aka the ‘anti-miscegenation statue’ that prohibits marriage between white and coloured people; sentenced to one year in prison, the Lovings were informed that their sentence would be suspended provided they left Virginia for 25 years.

Written and directed by Jeff Nichols, Loving charts the Lovings’ long campaign to have their sentence overturned, a legal battle that goes all the way to the United States Supreme Court.

Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton are individually and jointly excellent as the Lovings, their performances a delicate blend of world-weary bitterness and quiet dignity.

Negga is particularly impressive, despite having very little by way of dialogue to work with, her eyes mutely expressive of centuries’ worth of racist persecution.

Overall, however, the story lacks tension, as Mildred and Richard seem to be oddly insulated at the eye of the storm raging at the dawn of the civil rights movement: despite being caught up in era-defining events, the pair are preternaturally serene, and almost saintly in the face of constant provocation and the stress that must surely have come to bear on a couple raising a young family in such a pressure-cooker situation.

The fault here must lie with Jeff Nichols, who leans a little too heavily on historical events to carry the story, favouring the Lovings’ reluctant progress through the courts over the more mundane friction (frustration, rows and arguments) that might strike a chord with the audience.

The result is a solid but surprisingly staid biopic of an extraordinarily heroic couple.

Don’t worry if you haven’t been keeping up with the Resident Evil franchise — Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (15A) opens with a lengthy refresher, delivered in voiceover by Alice (Milla Jovovich), who has led humanity’s fight against the evil Umbrella Corporation and the global zombie apocalypse created by the corporation’s release of the T-virus.

When Alice learns that an antidote to the T-virus is to be found in the corporation’s headquarters, she embarks on a desperate bid to save the last remnants of mankind …

Written and directed by Paul WS Anderson, this instalment opens at a fair clip, with Alice battling weird and not-so-wonderful mutant creatures in an impressively post-apocalyptic world before joining forces with a small band of like-minded rebels.

Soon, however, it becomes apparent that the thin plot is simply an excuse to propel Alice into a series of loosely-linked action sequences, each more violent than the last, and it’s no time at all before the brutality becomes routine, and then mind-numbingly tedious.

Milla Jovovich is given very little to work with beyond a robotic determination to achieve her goal (an ironic celebration of the franchise’s computer game roots, perhaps?), while the villainous Dr Isaacs (Iain Glen) is so preposterously evil that he appears to have wandered in from an Austin Powers remake. Fans will likely lap it up; everyone else will breathe a sigh of relief as the final credits roll.

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