ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD (USA/15A/133mins)
Directed by Ridley Scott. Starring Charlie Plummer, Christopher Plummer, Mark Wahlberg, Michelle Williams, Romain Duris.
THE PLOT: Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer) was kidnapped in Rome in 1973. As the grandson of the richest man in the world, oil magnate J.Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer), Paul – or Paolo – is a valuable target. When his grandfather refuses to pay his ransom, however, Paul goes from being an asset to his captors, to a hindrance.
THE VERDICT: Based on the true story of Paul Getty’s life – which took a turn for the utterly tragic when Getty got older – and John Pearson’s book, ‘All the Money in the World’ is the story of money does not buy compassion. As well as this, the film is bound to be a curiosity, since Kevin Spacey was originally cast in the role of J.Paul Getty before being replaced by Christopher Plummer a mere few weeks ago.
The cast of ‘All the Money in the World’ is a strong one, but some of them struggle to find a home in the film; Christopher Plummer looms over the entire affair as J.Paul Getty, and is so strong in the role it is hard to imagine that anyone could bring such coldness and lack of scruples to the character. Michelle Williams plays Gail Harris as something of a caricature and gives the character strange affectations that come and go throughout the film. Mark Wahlberg is a strange choice for former CIA agent turned fixer for Getty the Elder, Fletcher Chase, and never truly seems at ease in the film. Charlie Plummer fares better as Getty the Younger, bringing a beautiful vulnerability to the character, and Romain Duris makes a vile character relatable as kidnapper Cinquanta.
Writer David Scarpa adapted John Pearson’s book for the big screen, and obviously makes sure that the film departs from the real events of the story for the sake of drama. There are times when these raised stakes work, but there is a lack of focus that stymies the film from time to time; it is hard to tell whether this is a kidnapping tale or one of a man so in love with money that he will allow the people he loves to die to protect his fortune. That said, when the film pulls together and finds a balance, it works incredibly well, it’s just a shame that these moments are just moments, and not a coherent feel for the entire running time.
Ridley Scott has created a film with some powerful performances, not least Christopher Plummer, who so truly inhabits the role of J. Paul Getty that it is hard to imagine anyone else even trying to bring the character to life. This could be due to the laser focus that Scott had to have to get the film complete in time, but whatever the reason, Plummer is truly the MVP of ‘All the Money in the World’. The pacing of the film is a little messy from time to time and, as mentioned, a stronger focus on which story was actually being told could have made for a more satisfying film.
In all, ‘All the Money in the World’ is a film that could have benefitted from a clearer focus from both director and writer, but as it stands, is a decent thriller and an examination of how people prioritise what matters to them.
RATING: 3/5
Review by Brogen Hayes

  • filmbuff2011

    Ridley Scott’s latest film All The Money In The World arrives with a certain notoriety attached to it. It’s not just based on a true incident, but also generated headlines just two months ago when Scott decided to replace alleged sexual predator Kevin Spacey with his original choice, Christopher Plummer. Still, there’s no such thing as bad press for a film…

    Rome, 1973. John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer) is a reckless young man but who is also a possible heir to the Getty empire. This was built by his ruthless grandfather J. Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer, no relation), a fabulously rich oil magnate who prizes possessions over people. His only answer to what he wants is… more money. But that’s exactly what his daughter-in-law Gail (Michelle Williams) comes looking for when John Paul is kidnapped by an Italian terrorist group fronted by Cinquanta (Romain Duris). They demand a ransom of $17m, but J. Paul remains intransigent. He sends his own negotiator Fletcher (Mark Wahlberg) to keep an eye on the negotiations and ensure that it goes in favour of him. Over the course of several long months, negotiations become fraught and tensions rise in the Getty family…

    Viewed in retrospect, the decision to replace Spacey with Plummer works well actually and is more natural. That Peter Weyland trick of having a younger actor in old man make-up is too obvious and could detract from the performance (let’s hope it works for Gary Oldman in Darkest Hour next week). The transition is almost seamless. The only giveaway is the Jordan-shot sequence, in which a blue-screened Plummer has been composited over Spacey. That’s understandable given the time pressures involved, to make that all-important Oscar qualification date. Who knows? Maybe Plummer will score an Oscar nomination, following on from his Golden Globe nomination for his concentrated, multi-layered performance.

    Apart from the Spacey controversy, the film itself is a taut and involving thriller adapted by David Scarpa from the book by John Pearson. Scott captures the period detail well, in not just the production design and costumes, but also the era of an energy crisis and increasingly bold political and terrorist actions. He also gives it his own directorial flourishes, particularly in the use of his camera and music. It’s a typically well-made film from Scott.

    Then he adds more layers of complexity, making this far more than a run-of-the-mill kidnap thriller. John Paul and Cinquanta develop a dependency on each other, as the situation changes hands. Further players come into the mix and stir up the pot/plot. It may feel a little drawn out because of this, but that’s not a bad thing. The film has the feel of a bestseller, charting out the long-running tensions in the Getty Empire as it goes through challenging times. This makes for magnetic viewing, drawing you deeper into the story with its twists and turns while never losing sight of each character’s own motivations.

    All The Money In The World is a propulsive, palm-sweating thriller that doesn’t go down the easy route and keeps you on your toes right through to the finish. With strong performances all round and controlled direction from Scott, it’s certainly worth throwing some money at. ****