All the Money in the World
Starring Christopher Plummer, Michelle Williams, Mark Wahlberg, Charlie Plummer, Timothy Hutton
The scandal for Ridley Scott’s new film All the Money is the World is probably selling more tickets than the film’s subject matter or audience interest. By now everyone knows how Scott replaced Kevin Spacey, originally appearing as John Paul Getty, with eight days of re-shoots. When Michelle Williams (The Greatest Showman), Plummer (The Man Who Invented Christmas) and Scott received Golden Globe nominations, the troubled film became an awards player, adding to the curiosity of whether or not the engineer minded director behind Gladiator and The Martian could pull off the monumental replacement venture. While Christopher Plummer’s involvement feels organic from the beginning, the film as a whole has pacing, editing, and narrative problems. Is that caused by the re-shoots, we’ll never know unless we see the original Spacey version.
An oil tycoon, ruthless business investor, an art collector, J. Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer) was the richest man in the world during the mid-1970’s. Gail (Williams), a Getty by marriage, was not so rich. Her eldest son John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer) was kidnapped in Rome when he was 16 in 1973. A media firestorm resulted due to the Getty name and the fact his own grandfather refused to pay the 17-million-dollar ransom. The senior Getty excuses his distancing from family early in life, because he simply couldn’t be weighed down mentally. Ex-CIA negotiator Fletcher Chase (Wahlberg) is brought in to assist on the case and “handle” Gail. A few months in, Chase explains to his boss that the circumstances are becoming increasingly dire.
The film as a whole has pacing, editing, and narrative problems.
This film opens by taking the audience back and forth between locations in past and present. The location and year titles flash so rapidly at the bottom of the screen, it’s a bit maddening to keep up with what time period you’re in and if the flashbacks are relevant to forthcoming plot moves. It’s no help that Christopher Plummer looks the same from the 1940’s to the 1970’s. The re-shoot hairstyle changes for Williams and Wahlberg can be overlooked, but the fact All the Money in the World doesn’t seem to understand who it’s main character is or what message the film wants to convey, is a much greater problem. The narrative is equally split between Williams, Plummer and the younger Plummer (Lean on Pete), giving us an overview of the situation, but never fully exploring either character in depth.
As kidnap films go, All the Money in the World has some suspense to it, most of the audience won’t know or remember the outcome. The script by John Pearson (Legend) has some surprising dark humor to it, mostly where Christopher Plummer’s portrayal of Getty is concerned. The irony is very loud in this picture, the over all sound quality is not up to typical Scott standards. Outside the reshoots, it’s one of his lesser technical productions. On screen, the film admits details and circumstances where changed and altered for dramatic effect, but a savvy viewer can spot those easily as the film progresses. Certain things are just too convenient or “Hollywood” to be realistic. This film won’t be remembered as the best of the year, nor for it’s subject matter, but for the eight day replacement feat Scott pulled off.
Won’t be remembered as the best of the year, nor for its subject matter, but for the eight-day replacement feat Scott pulled off.