The aptly titled "Fool's Gold" is a retread of a retread – an attempt to cash in on such movies as the "National Treasure" series, which in turn were rip-offs of "Indiana Jones," which, as it happens, is being revived this summer. And so it goes.
Actually, a better title for this movie would be "Treasure Chest," since Matthew McConaughey, playing Ben "Finn" Finnegan, a treasure hunter in pursuit of a sunken Spanish galleon, spends most of the movie with his shirt off. Not since the second and third "Rambo" movies has a movie star done less for the clothing industry. Given the fact that Finn spends most of his time in the sunny Bahamas, it's surprising that the filmmakers didn't work in a plethora of suntan lotion tie-ins.
McConaughey is paired with Kate Hudson, who plays his ex-wife, Tess. They last teamed up in "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days," an inexplicably successful romantic comedy that proved you don't need chemistry to make moolah. The chemistry in "Fool's Gold" isn't so hot, either – maybe because the chief object of McConaughey's affections is himself. Finn is supposed to be helplessly in love with Tess, who, of course, still loves him despite/because of his roguish ways. Since it's a foregone conclusion that these two will reunite, I kept waiting for something nifty to bring them together again. No such luck. There's only fool's gold in this galleon.
The Bahamian locations are beautiful, though – even if they were, in fact, shot in and around Queensland, Australia. The underwater diving footage occasionally conveys the dreamy poetry that is possible in deep-sea photography. And that's about it on the plus side.
Several good actors turn up to no particular effect – including Ray Winstone as Finn's surly mentor, and Donald Sutherland as a mega-yacht-owning billionaire. Sutherland sports an incredibly phony-sounding upper-class British accent. Was he trying to mimic John Cleese or is he (or the director Andy Tennant) tone deaf? As the billionaire's bimbo daughter, Alexis Dziena is cheerfully vacuous. If it's true that you have to be smart to play dumb, then Dziena is a genius.
The treasure hunt in "Fool's Gold" is, of course, meant to be about more than money. But the only reason for this movie to exist is to make money. That's not an unadmirable goal, but one must be deft about it. Otherwise what you end up with is something like "Fool's Gold." Grade: C–
• Rated PG-13 for action violence, some sexual material, brief nudity, and language.