In new movie, Gold, the world is in a bad place. Work is in short supply, and a lone traveller arrives at a desolate outpost in the Australian outback, aiming to make his way to a location known as The Compound.
At The Compound, the traveller hopes to find employment, so he hires a local man to transport him across the wasteland to get to his destination. Both set off on the road, but it’s not long before they encounter car trouble, and are forced to stop.
While the driver tries to fix his car, the traveller stumbles across what he believes is a sizeable lump of gold buried in the ground. He informs the driver of his discovery, and both men attempt to extract it with no success.
After numerous failed efforts to shift the gold, the two men agree a new course of action. The driver will set off on the road, in search of the necessary machinery to remove the gold, while the traveller will remain behind to ensure it isn’t found by anyone else.
With a plan in place, the two men get to work on their respective tasks; but it isn’t long before exposure to the elements causes problems for the traveller. And then to make things worse, a stranger arrives and puts the plan in further jeopardy.
In order to secure the gold, the traveller must do everything in his power to keep it a secret. But with his supplies dwindling, and his health at risk, can he keep the interloper at bay long enough while he waits for his companion to return?
Directed by and co-starring Anthony Hayes, with Zac Efron taking the lead role, Gold is an Australian survival thriller. The movie was released in its home territory back in January, where it received a limited theatrical run, but the film finally makes its way to the UK this month as an exclusive title on Amazon Prime Video.
Shot on a low budget, and utilising a very small cast, Gold places its focus on story telling and characterisation, rather than on huge spectacle. So, if you’re planning on checking out this movie, don’t expect to see enormous explosions, bonkers battle scenes, or anything remotely related to a car chase, because this is not what this movie is about.
What you should expect to see is a solid, intriguing little thriller, with enough story to keep things interesting for the duration of the movie. This is a film about one man’s survival in harsh conditions, and the lengths he goes to when he feels threatened.
Going into this movie, you should also expect to see a great performance from Zac Efron. The actor appears in every scene throughout this film, and he nails his role perfectly.
Efron is a fine actor, who often gets lumbered with duff movies (Baywatch, Firestarter, etc), so it is easy to overlook his talents. But thankfully, with Gold being a good movie, he is able to show what he can do, and then some!
In this picture he throws himself around the screen, getting bruised, battered, and bleached in the sun. This is not a role where he gets to show off his rugged good looks or chiselled abs, this is a part which requires Efron to spend the entirety of the picture caked in crap, while looking dishevelled and delirious, and he leans into it all without a second thought.
This movie is well directed, and I believe the story could work with other actors in the role, but I feel that Efron’s involvement is vital. His commitment to the part, and his ability to truly let go (he broke a bone in his hand during the shoot), is what ultimately sells this tale, and gives the film the edge it is aiming for.
In terms of suspense, Gold has its fair share of tense moments, and while none of the major story beats will come as a huge surprise, the film still delivers and finds ways to keep the audience engaged. At no point does the movie run out of steam and the whole thing feels well-paced.
It also looks good too. Gold was shot in the South Australian outback, in some pretty harsh conditions, and the arid landscape becomes as much a character in this film as Efron’s traveller or Hayes’ driver.
While Gold may not be for everyone, and some audiences may expect a bit more from the film, this is a good little thriller, centred around a strong central performance. Gold also delivers a message about greed and determination, and most important of all, it never outstays its welcome.
If you’re into survivalist movies, or you simply want to see Efron unchained, then Gold is a movie for you. It would work well as a great companion piece to 2010’s Buried, and will certainly plug a gap in your evening, should you be on the look-out for some post-work viewing.