The marketing campaign for Gore Verbinski's long-awaited return to the horror(ish) genre has been relentless. And after 20th Century Fox dished out the big bucks for a pricey advertising spot during this past Super Bowl, A Cure for Wellness clearly hopes to attract a wide-ranging audience with its mystery and intrigue. Verbinski, who broke out in 2002 with the instant horror classic, The Ring, is best known for his work over the last decade and a half continually teaming up with Johnny Depp in the long-running action franchise, Pirates of the Caribbean. Yet, could this return to the horror-thriller genre be his true calling? A Cure for Wellness would suggest otherwise.
Dane DeHaan stars as Lockhart, an ambitious business executive who ventures to a remote location in the Swiss Alps to find the company's CEO and return him to the states for a transaction that requires his appearance. But when Lockhart arrives at an eerie treatment center which houses his boss, he begins to suspect that a deeper and stranger plan is at work in the facility. As he sneaks around looking for evidence to support his suspicions, Lockhart begins to toe-the-line between the truth and madness.
A Cure for Wellness deserves to be lauded for its stark originality and gripping mystique. However, there's very little else to help ease the audience through the film's painfully harsh 2 hour and 26 minute running time. This muddled marathon lures the viewer with a creepy introduction to its spa-like setting, but struggles to complete the entire story in an appropriate manner. Verbinski drags the plot through twists and turns that force you to believe a bigger reveal is right around the corner, but nothing grand ever develops. Instead, A Cure for Wellness is exactly what it seems to be, a frustratingly unpleasant spiral into psychological madness for both its lead character and the viewer.
Stars: 1 and a half stars out of 4
Matthew McConaughey's career turnaround has been well documented. He smoothly transitioned from a rom-com heartthrob into a bona fide Oscar-Winning dramatic actor following an unforgettable turn in 2013's Dallas Buyers Club. McConaughey is known for portraying exuberant and sometimes over-the-top characters, and he takes us on one of his wildest journeys yet in Stephen Gaghan's Gold.
Struggling prospector Kenny Wells (McConaughey) needs a big score to keep his business afloat. And after a late-night premonition sends him on a journey to the uncharted jungles of Indonesia, Wells and geologist Michael Acosta (Edgar Ramirez) strike it rich by discovering the largest gold mine in recent history. As news breaks of their lucrative score, all of Wall Street wants in on the business venture and Wells goes from a financial pariah to an uncontrollable big wig.
Gold serves as an interesting character study centering around themes of envy, greed and obsession. Matthew McConaughey continues his recent string of acting dominance and almost single handedly keeps the film from utter disaster. His commitment to the role is evident with a physical transformation that includes a pot belly and comb-over. Despite McConaughey's fine lead performance, as well as the strong supporting work of both Edgar Ramirez and Wells' love interest played by Bryce Dallas Howard, Gold's screenplay is as unhinged as its lead character. And although the film almost redeems itself with an unforeseen ending, Gold struggles too mightily to construct a worthwhile viewing experience.
Stars: 2 stars out of 4