Gold (2022) Parent Guide
Interesting performances and an incredible location don't compensate for a story which feels a bit hollow.
Parent Movie Review
Virgil (Zac Efron) is planning to make a dangerous journey across the post-apocalyptic wasteland to a compound which promises safety and opportunity. Crossing the desert is hazardous, and Virgil has decided to pay a local driver, Keith (Anthony Hayes) for passage. When the truck breaks down in the middle of nowhere, a short delay for repairs turns into something much, much bigger: A dig. Virgil stumbled onto a massive chunk of gold in the sand, and it’s too large for the pair to remove manually. One of them is going to have to stay behind and guard the treasure while the other goes into town to get an excavator. Not willing to trust Keith with the find, Virgil decides that he’ll remain with the gold. But Keith’s going to have to get back soon, because life in the desert is nearly impossible…
Shot in the Australian outback, the film is imbued with a sense of dangerous isolation, with barren sands stretching far away and scarce scrub bush under a merciless sky. The movie feels unpleasantly hot, a sensation amplified by Zac Efron’s increasingly burned and dehydrated features. Even his eyes seem to be bleached by the sun. His performance is similarly minimal, but that’s exactly what the role calls for. I had some concerns about a Hollywood heartthrob in a film this bleak, but he holds up admirably.
Unfortunately, the film might be a little too barren. Entirely too much of the runtime consists solely of Efron staring vaguely into the distance (or, on several occasions, directly into the sun for some reason), while the plot just waits around for something else to happen. The story is tense and interesting, but there just isn’t enough going on to keep you paying attention.
On the other hand, there’s a little too much going on for this to be suitable for a family audience, a fact supported by the film’s R rating. The biggest concern is the profanity, which based on the sparse nature of the script, I would estimate accounts for roughly half of all spoken dialogue. Then there’s some fairly graphic violence, which includes a person being eaten alive by wild dogs.
I wish I could recommend this film to adult thriller fans, but it just can’t seem to find its feet consistently. Interesting performances and an incredible location don’t compensate for a story which feels, for lack of a better word, a bit hollow. While the film doesn’t entirely waste the potential the story promises, it certainly doesn’t deliver all of it either. Not that I can entirely blame the filmmakers – if it were me out there in the desert, I would have done whatever it took to get out of there as soon as possible.Directed by Anthony Hayes. Starring Zac Efron, Anthony Hayes, Susie Porter. Running time: 97 minutes. Theatrical release March 11, 2022. Updated March 7, 2022
Watch the trailer for Gold (2022)
Rating & Content Info
Why is Gold (2022) rated R? Gold (2022) is rated R by the MPAA for language and some violent content.
Violence: A wounded animal is killed with a rock. A person is killed with a shovel and their body is burned. After being accidentally impaled with a tree branch, a character cauterizes the wound with a hot piece of scrap metal. A person is eaten alive by wild dogs. Another is shot in the chest with a crossbow.
Sexual Content: None.
Profanity: There are 30 uses of a sexual expletive, six scatological curses, and infrequent uses of mild profanities and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: A character is seen smoking tobacco.
Page last updated March 7, 2022
Gold (2022) Parents' Guide
Why do Virgil and Keith behave the way they do? What choices would you have made in their situation? What ethical/moral beliefs are the basis for those choices?
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Another film with vast desert landscapes and an unhealthy obsession with gold is the prototypical Western, The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. Other similar movies include A Fistful of Dollars, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, and The Sisters Brothers. Fans may also enjoy the short film All Gold Canyon in the Coen brothers’ The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, available on Netflix.
If you’re more interested in the harrowing dystopian future, try films like The Book of Eli,The Road, Mad Max: Fury Road, Light of My Life, It Comes at Night, and The Children of Men. Other movies set in the Australian outback include Quigley Down Under, Rabbit-Proof Fence, High Ground, and The Dry.