Running Time 95 minutes
Directed by Andy Tennant
Written by Andy Tennant, John Claflin and Daniel Zelman
Starring Kate Hudson, Matthew McConaughey, Donald Sutherland
Andy Tennant’s Fools Gold, from a screenplay by Mr. Tennant, John Claflin and Daniel Zelman, based on a story by Mr. Claflin and Mr. Zelman, seems to have been intended as a riotously funny adventure film about modern treasure-hunting in the Caribbean, through it was shot off the coast of Australia. The movie lost me right from the beginning, when I couldn’t accept any of its plot premises and didn’t believe in any of its characters. I must admit that its acrobatic stunts and watery special effects were reasonably diverting once one’s mind was locked in disconnect mode. The film begins with Ben ‘Finn” Finnegan (Matthew McConaughey) and a buddy deep-sea-diving in search of the legendary 18th-century Queen’s Dowry—40 chests of priceless treasure ordered by the King of Spain to be transported from the New World to the home country in the galleon lost at sea in a hurricane in 1715. We learn gradually that Finn has gambled and lost everything he has, including his marriage to Tess (Kate Hudson), his researcher and collaborator in the treasure hunt. Even while Finn is exulting over a fragment from the lost treasure ship, Tess is waiting impatiently in the island courthouse for Finn to arrive so that she can complete the divorce proceedings. What Finn doesn’t know as he exults in the depths is that his last earthly possession, his boat, is about to explode and sink from an accidental fire, the cause of which has to be seen to be disbelieved, even though, I suppose, it can be described as playfully “cinematic.”
From this point on, Finn is engaged simultaneously in two quests, the first for the treasure, and the second for the lost love of his wife. There is not much suspense in his attaining both objectives if you have ever seen an action movie as facetious as this one. But before Finn and Tess can be happily and profitably reunited, both will have to survive a series of potentially life-ending beatings and near-drownings from an array of mostly black bad guys led by black mob chieftain Bigg Bunny (Kevin Hart), who, despite his cutesy moniker, uses real guns with real bullets, none of which are aimed accurately enough to end the conjoined quests of Finn and Tess.
Matters become particularly far-fetched when much of the action shifts to the mega-yacht of billionaire Nigel Honeycutt (Donald Sutherland), who has named it after his willfully resentful daughter, Gemma (Alexis Dziena). First, Tess finagles a job on the yacht as its steward, and then Finn finds an ingenious and acrobatically death-defying means of joining Tess aboard the yacht in the good graces of its owner and his daughter.
But not to worry. Gemma poses no threat to the preordained reunion of Finn and Tess, and Mr. Honeycutt is too old and fine a billionaire even to think of making a serious pass at Tess, despite the fact that he knows that all his wives married him for his money. By the time all the mercenary mishegoss are sorted out for a collectively happy ending, I decided that modern-day treasure hunting is too strenuous and dangerous to give me even a vicarious thrill. But, of course, I can’t speak for the eternally greedy mass audience.