All The Money In The World review: The movie with all the publicity in the world makes its way to UK cinemas.
All The Money In The World review by Luke Ryan Baldock.
All The Money In The World comes with all the publicity a studio could hope for. Originally co-starring the now disgraced Kevin Spacey, director Ridley Scott and studio Sony dropped the two time Academy Award winner sharpish, after a series of sexual assault claims. The thing was, there was just over a month until release, which meant the original choice for the role, Christopher Plummer, had to jump in hastily to meet the film’s original US release date of 22nd December. With 2 weeks to learn his lines and now a Golden Globe nomination for the part, it seems that Scott and team have pulled off a little miracle while also making a statement of how big stars with impressive credentials are not irreplaceable, even in the 11th hour.
But that’s enough of scandals, as the film was enticing enough with its high calibre of talent and the fact it covers one of the most infamous kidnappings of all time, that of John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer), and the refusal of his grandfather (Christopher Plummer – no relation), the richest man in the world, to pay the ransom. Despite its true story roots and thriller construction, the film is almost fantastical in a fairytale way. Michelle Williams, incredible as the despairing mother, is our hero, while her son is the damsel in distress. Mark Wahlberg, toned down and on point, is the brave hired warrior, and Christopher Plummer is the man behind the curtain. There’s even Romain Duris as the kidnapper with (almost) a heart of gold. Such parts could easily be transposed over into a Disney animated film, and it’s this element of wonder that serves the plot well.
John Paul Getty III’s narration is often apologetic and struggles what it is like to be a Getty, but this in no way means that the film is hard to relate to. Both Scott and writer David Scarpa do well to flesh out all characters into complex conflicted creations. Getty is not just some money hoarding cruel bastard, but also shows himself as loving but detrimentally logical. Plummer gives so much to the role that it’s almost impossible to hate him. You see his points, you see his heart, and you completely understand his handling of the situation. John Paul Getty III, an arrogant teen who has joked about faking a kidnapping in the past in order to extort his grandfather. Duris is the most surprising, as a genuinely caring man who seems to have been driven to drastic measures. His performance is what is truly overshadowed in the controversy, giving a complete character arc, with heart and humanity.
All The Money In The World’s pacing may be its biggest flaw, but that’s only because Scott wants to portray as many facets of this complex family/situation as possible. We dart around locations and years in the first quarter, and the film never quite feels settled, nor conveys satisfactorily how many months the kidnapping goes on for. There are multiple reasons for this, such as Getty seemingly not ageing over the span of many years (perhaps due to the limited time in the re-shoots), and also characters jetting back and forth. Even this, however, is to show how reluctant Getty is to converse over the phone. He also constantly receives stock market news through an old ticker tape, showing his disconnect.
It may be bitty in places, but overall this is a relentlessly engaging thriller propelled forward by its constant preference towards characters and their motivations, rather than erratic set pieces. Dialogue heavy for sure, but every word weaves its way into a piece rich with subtext and thematic ideas pursuing wealth, family, honour, and business. It leaves plenty to mull over and think about, and Scott allows for these moments. Said dialogue also brings out a dark humour, most notably executed with painless delivery from Christopher Plummer. He may have just played Scrooge in The Man Who Invented Christmas, but this may be a truer embodiment of a tightfisted miser. If this is the kind of film Scott can produce between unnecessary Alien sequels/prequels, then I say ‘go for it’.
All The Money In The World review by Luke Ryan Baldock, January 2018.
All The Money In The World is released in cinemas on Friday 5th January 2018.