The world has changed dramatically in the near future and is now a desert-like wasteland. We are introduced to a man with no name (Zac Efron) who is seeking work at a compound. The duties that he will carry out are vague, but we understand the stranger hopes it will change his life for the better. At least, that’s what the flyer in his back pocket tells him.
To reach his destination and begin working, he has to hire a driver (Anthony Hayes- also the director of this film), paying a high price for the service and top value for fuel. But while driving, their vehicle breaks down, and the two men become stranded. Shortly after becoming stranded, one of them finds a large gold nugget in the dirt. As they dig around it, they soon find it’s the biggest gold nugget they have ever seen! Now the two men must come together and work out a way to excavate it. The question is, can they can survive the desert and everything in it, and more importantly, can they trust each other to become rich?
Gold is tense, dramatic and, at times, unsettling. Actor Zac Efron has a remarkable transformation in both appearance and performance. It’s obvious his mysterious leading character has had a rough past. Viewers will understand this based on his appearance alone, consisting of raggedy clothing, multiple scars on his face/body, and a limp with every step he takes. It’s a transformation that I found unexpected given the actor’s past work, and his screen presence here is fantastic. Zac Efron gives a gritty and quite emotional performance, with his character weak and desperate to survive. The actor himself is even unrecognizable at key moments, even more so as the film progresses towards the end. The level of makeup on the leading man and his costume are praiseworthy.
As for pacing, I found myself fairly engaged with this story. While the film isn’t always dialogue-heavy, viewers will still be invested and interested to see the dramatic conclusion. While some moments, especially during the second act, may move at a slower pace, I was still invested in this story due to Efron delivering something new and emotional. The themes of survival in this new Max Mad type wasteland world is great to see, and the combination of watching our lead survive against natural elements and random strangers were nice touches to the story. The landscape and use of close-ups kept me hooked.
Overall, this is a tense, dramatic and emotional story. Zac Efron delivers a performance that I found unexpected and highly impressive. The actor has truly transformed himself into something else, ultimately delivering a new experience for fans of the actor. The visuals here are great, and I enjoyed the look of this gritty, futuristic wasteland. While the film sometimes moves slowly, I was never bored but still highly eager to know the outcomes. However, the film’s ending is somewhat predictable and even vague, which was disappointing.