‘All the Money in the World’ is perhaps in danger of being overshadowed by the allegations surrounding Kevin Spacey, which subsequently led to Ridley Scott deciding to reshoot all of his scenes with Christopher Plummer replacing him, incredibly managing to do so with barely any slippage on the release date. Hopefully that won’t be the case as this is an accomplished thriller based on the true events surrounding the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer – no relation), the grandson of the then richest man in the world, J. Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer). The film is a detailed account of the situation, which can be a downside at times, particularly in the middle part of the film which feels slightly repetitive in reinforcing the film’s themes.
The film’s central thrust surrounds Christopher Plummer’s performance as the oil magnate J. Paul Getty, a man of incredible wealth yet someone so frugal with his money that he was unprepared to pay the ransom for his grandson’s release. To an extent, his logic for not doing so makes sense, but the way Getty is portrayed suggests this is a man who values money and material goods over all else, and his great wealth has led him to be a bitter and resentful man. Virtually every scene with Plummer is electrifying viewing and the film is at its strongest when the focus is on Getty, with the kidnapping itself almost feeling like a sideshow. I think part of that is because the sequences with the younger Getty and his captors (led by French actor Romain Duris) lack any sense of meaningful tension, which may be partly because I knew how the situation played out, but then plenty of other films based on true events manage to generate tension even when the outcome is known beforehand.
Scott is a seasoned director and he makes good use of the Italian locations (Rome looks incredible unsurprisingly), whilst also drawing superb performances from his cast. Michelle Williams is another standout in a less showy role as the mother of the younger, kidnapped Getty, and she essentially has to play the middle man between the kidnappers and her father in-law, getting increasingly exasperated at the seeming lack of care he shows for his grandson or those close to him. Mark Wahlberg is the third lead as a former CIA operative that Getty hires to investigate the kidnapping and he is solid if unspectacular in the role. The kidnapping is used as backdrop for themes of money and capitalism at its most extreme, with the figure of J. Paul Getty representing the worst excesses where the want for money removes virtually all compassion and empathy for others, and it’s when the film explores and shows its revulsion for him that ‘All the Money in the World’ becomes drama of the highest calibre. Considering the production challenges this film faced in the past couple of months, it’s quite remarkable that it turned out as strong as it did.
Directed By: Ridley Scott
Starring: Michelle Williams, Christopher Plummer, Mark Wahlberg, Romain Duris, Marco Leonardi, Charlie Plummer, Timothy Hutton and Andrew Buchan