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The Gold review: British heist drama fails to shine

Paramount Plus' true-crime series somehow both rushes through plot and drags out suspense

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Jack Lowden in The Gold
Jack Lowden in The Gold
Photo: Sally Mais/Tannadice Pictures/Paramount+

There is simply too much happening in The Gold—and only brief bits of it are truly compelling. The British series, which makes its U.S. debut September 17 on Paramount+, feels far longer and slower than it should despite its tidy six- hour, six-episode run. Based on a real-life 1983 robbery and the shocking investigation that followed, Neil Forsyth’s show tries to weave a complex tale of corruption, crime, murder, and betrayal during a crucial time in England. On the surface, The Gold has the necessary elements for a twisty drama with a social message. However, the stilted storytelling never allows the show to blossom or build momentum.

The Gold kicks off in intriguing fashion with the theft, as six masked men attack a warehouse next to London’s Heathrow Airport. Instead of the $1 million they anticipated, they escape with $26 million worth of gold bullion, diamonds, and cash. This robbery at Brink’s-Mat instigates a years-long inquiry that spans multiple countries, leads to several trials and deaths, and shines a light on deceit by the government and police. It’s a dark and fascinating tale, yet The Gold’s disjointed attempt to dramatize these historic events makes for a boring watch. The writing is weak and often corny, the pacing is all over the place, and it’s hard to emotionally invest in most of the protagonists until the end. It’s neither a pulsating thriller nor does it have emotional heft. And those six masked men? Don’t expect to see or learn about much of them.


Standout performances from Jack Lowden, Dominic Cooper, Charlotte Spencer, and Hugh Bonneville are the saving grace here. Despite their commitment, though, The Gold suffers from a haphazard script and editing. It’s got promising ideas but puny execution, and frequent jumps in perspectives and timelines lead to confusion. It barely leaves room to connect with the people, no matter how effective the talented ensemble is. (If you’re not familiar with the case already, it’s even harder to keep track of everything going on.) The show rushes through the plot while somehow dragging out the suspense. In this chaos, it loses any voice and originality.


There are certainly hints of uniqueness sprinkled across The Gold’s episodes. Instead of going action-heavy, it focuses on the human side of the investigation, dwelling on the behind-the-scenes details. Forsyth approaches the saga through the POV of England’s class wars. Characters repeatedly remark on how London has changed as popular capitalism emerges. In a later episode, an older woman living in a small apartment goes to banks, talking about how the city is less about family and more about money now. Her son, who was partly involved in the robbery, has made it his mission to overcome his impoverished roots. When asked where he is from, he says, “It’s not where but what I’m from. I’m from fear and everything I’ve done is to free myself of that.” (We warned you: The dialogue can get corny.)

While the personal angle on a topic this pivotal to the country’s history is fresh, The Gold fails to live up to its agenda. Instead it splinters into an array of stories, each more tedious than the last. The best of the lot is about a trio of cops who become obsessed with finding out the truth. Brian Boyce (Bonneville), Nicki Jennings (Spencer), and Tony Brightwell (Emun Elliott) are the driving forces here because they get the most well-developed arcs. Their internal banter also brings some desperately needed levity to the show. As the only female detective, Nicki has to battle misogyny while dealing with her own sordid issues. And Spencer offers a nuanced portrayal of the character, albeit one who was entirely made up for the show.

The Gold | Official Trailer | Paramount+

The Gold also spends time with some of the notorious criminals involved, like killer Kenneth Noye (Lowden), lawyer Edwyn Cooper (Cooper), and gold dealer John Palmer (Tom Cullen). They weren’t physically present at the scene of the crime but heavily aided in melting and dealing with the stolen gold bullion. Once again, the actors do the heavy lifting. All three men led intriguing lives, but you won’t be able to tell that from how The Gold zaps through the plot. Kenneth’s sinister past is crammed into the show, which takes away from Lowden’s perfectly creepy performance. Meanwhile, any impact of Edwyn and John’s sentimental family lives lands with a thud because of the pacing. By the time the show reveals anything about them, it’s too late to care.

As if it wasn’t exhausting enough, The Gold continues to cram in more subplots and introduce new faces without proper context as it goes on, probably to look more stylized than it is. Watching it would feel like mental gymnastics if the cast wasn’t holding on for dear life. The show tries and fails to strike the balance between gritty and entertaining, transforming into an uninteresting version of itself. And among a slew of other crime dramas from the BBC, this one just misses the mark in comparison.

The Gold premieres September 17 on Paramount+