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All the Money in the World

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.
Review by Brogen Hayes