TRISTAR PICTURES (2018)
Director: Ridley Scott
Starring: Michelle Williams, Christopher Plummer, Mark Wahlberg, Romain Duris
If I were a rich man…
Given the production issues All the Money in the World had to face, they could have gotten away with titling this All the Troubles in the World, couldn’t they? OK, no they couldn’t but, still, given the dirty issues and allegations surrounding Kevin Spacey and his dismissal from the project, Christopher Plummer filling in at the eleventh hour, the reshoot fees and equality scandals, you can bet the studio and Ridley Scott just wanted to get the movie released to change the subject.
Once the richest man in the world, J. Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer) had it all. Money, famed artwork, oil, and a family at arm’s length. All the Money in the World is based on the 1973 kidnapping of his grandson John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer) by Italian organised crime units and the protracted ransom (non) negotiations with Plummer, his daughter-in-law Gail (Williams) and adviser Fletcher Chace (Wahlberg). The kidnappers demanded $17 million, whereas Getty was only eventually willing to pay $1 million simply because it was the highest tax-deductible amount – despite the conditions his grandson was kept in and his treatment as well.
The first thing to mention is Christopher Plummer is excellent as the miserly, nasty J. Paul Getty and is closer to the character’s age than Spacey would’ve been (by a mere thirty years or so) and the achievement of seamlessly transitioning him into the movie alongside the cast who had already performed the scenes was a monumental task somehow achieved by all involved. As for the movie itself, crucially for the studio’s sake, it’s not bad at all. It’s long, maybe too long, but there’s just enough throughout to keep the momentum and, more importantly, engagement levels piqued. The highlights of the movie involve any scene including Christopher Plummer and Michelle Williams – who is also extremely good (as per usual) as the desperate yet strong mother of the kidnapped John Paul III – they were electric together and that dynamic was the strongest aspect of All the Money in the World. Charlie Plummer does well as the kidnapped teen and Mark Wahlberg donned some glasses, demanded power on set allegedly whilst covering a vanilla role well.
The setting was captured well and felt authentic, and the use of Time of the Season by The Zombies will always be a welcome addition to any movie – on a side note, you can tell the movie is set way back as the back pages of the local paper states “Spurs Head for Glory”, clearly generations ago. Being based on pre-existing material, the movie had a foundation to build upon and for the most part, it’s written very well. Protracted scenes of dialogue between characters make way for good set pieces intended to get the pulse racing slightly. The final set piece didn’t entirely grab me, it felt too exaggerated even for this movie. It’s hard to deny the overall story isn’t compelling – a dive into the characteristics of a filthy rich Scrooge, a kidnapped relative, a mother fighting for his freedom against the family name and it all revolves around that most precious of things – money.
With the cast at hand, the performances were always going to be top-notch, and in Plummer Sr. and Williams, you get just that. Whilst the movie meanders somewhat at times, through all of the trials and tribulations of simply getting it to the big screen, All the Money in the World stands as a solid bit of storytelling.
12th January 2018