THE STORY – ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD follows the kidnapping of 16-year-old John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer) and the desperate attempt by his devoted mother Gail (Michelle Williams) to convince his billionaire grandfather (Christopher Plummer) to pay the ransom. When Getty Sr. refuses, Gail attempts to sway him as her son’s captors become increasingly volatile and brutal. With her son’s life in the balance, Gail and Getty’s advisor (Mark Wahlberg) become unlikely allies in the race against time that ultimately reveals the true and lasting value of love over money.
THE CAST – Michelle Williams, Christopher Plummer, Mark Wahlberg & Romain Duris
THE TEAM – Ridley Scott (Director) & David Scarpa (Writer)
THE RUNNING TIME – 132 Minutes
By Josh W.
Ridley Scott’s “All the Money in the World” is a gripping drama about what one is willing to sacrifice all in the name of family. Whether that be giving every ounce of yourself or refusing to do as much as lift a finger, family is at the forefront of the conversation in Scott’s latest film, making it his most compelling in years. From the outstanding performances from the ensemble to being somewhat of a return to form for Scott, “All the Money in the World” has defied all preconceived expectations and delivers on a tense and heartfelt story. With its only road bump proving to be the length, the film does not disappoint, in fact, it is more surprising than anything else considering the drama surrounding the film’s production over the last two months.
“All the Money in the World” is based on real-life events as well as the book penned by John Pearson titled “Painfully Rich: The Outrageous Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Heirs of J. Paul Getty.” After John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer) is kidnapped by an organized crime regime, his mother Gail Getty (Michelle Williams), must figure out a way to rescue her son. The one and only option proposed by the criminal regime is a cash payment of 17 million dollars from John Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer). J. Paul Getty is a titan of the booming oil industry making him the richest man in the history of humanity. While Getty refuses to pay the ransom, Gail must find another means to rescue her son. She finds assistance through Getty’s business manager and a former CIA operative, Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg). Together with Gail, Fletcher attempts to utilize a handful of different negotiation tactics in order to retrieve John Paul Getty III. To no avail, however, the kidnappers refuse to agree to any of the offers given by Gail and Fletcher. Instead, they insist on J. Paul Getty forking over the cash because after all, he has all the money in the world.
Alright, I’ll just cut right to the chase, after two months of controversy, the final film is really stellar. I know the only question a lot of people have about the film is if Ridley Scott manages to pull it off. And in case you couldn’t tell from my opening paragraph, he absolutely does. This is easily his best film in a long time. While “The Martian” is fantastically made, this film is much more grounded and nuanced. “All the Money in the World” definitely has some comedic moments from time to time but it isn’t as prevalent as it was in “The Martian.” Instead, Scott reaches into that repertoire we were familiar with early on in his career. The smooth tracking shots contrasted with the rough handheld shots. Juxtaposing the upper and lower classes, creating that visual tension that once made him incredibly exciting to watch. Here is a living legend at 80 years of age and with the work ethic he has shown and visual flair on display, you’d be forgiven for thinking he was 40. And that is not to say that he has necessarily fallen off over the past few years. Instead, there just seems to have been some sort of soul lacking from his recent works. Films like “The Martian”, “Alien: Covenant,” and even “Prometheus” are all well-made films on a technical level. They just seem to be lacking this illustrious quality that feels so prevalent in pieces like “Alien” or “Gladiator.” He is back to commanding tremendous performances from his actors and painting a truly striking spectacle in terms of the visuals and how the story unfolds.
But aside from Scott putting a tad more passion into this project than others, the story is actually quite suspenseful and really holds your attention throughout. Every time they get close to re-acquiring John Paul Getty III, the opportunity is stripped from them. As an audience member, this gets legitimately frustrating. You believe in Gail and Fletcher, you can sense the resilience the two of them share in the search for Gail’s son. The search is a constant cat and mouse chase with a whole lot of twists and turns. While you desperately want them to find Gail’s son, you also kinda don’t really want them to, for that would mean the story would end and we would no longer get to see Ridley Scott and his actors performing at the top of their game anymore.
Now I know that the performance everyone wants to hear about is Christopher Plummer (Who only joined the production a month ago) and trust me, I’m getting there. Aside from Plummer’s grand contribution to the project, there are plenty of other MVP’s within the ensemble. The first and possibly most surprising is the work of Charlie Plummer in the role of John Paul Getty III. Charlie is exquisite in his execution of the terrified yet compliant “kidnappee.” The way that his lips quiver when he is nervous or anxious gives this almost spine-shivering feeling that you do not typically feel in a film like this. Every time there is a scene with Charlie it is told almost entirely in close-ups. We feel a much more intimate relationship with him than some of the other characters. His frightened yet subtle performance is one that earns our sympathy and puts him on the map as a young actor to watch out for.
Moving away from his recent roles like “Daddy’s Home” or “Ted”, Mark Wahlberg takes about ten or twenty steps backward from the more goofy aspects of his persona and retreats to a place we found him in films like “Deepwater Horizon,” “Patriot’s Day” or “The Fighter.” Now while this performance isn’t as stunning as either of those films, it is refreshing to see that Wahlberg doesn’t detract from the film. Rather, his presence enhances it. His imposing and confident stature is the perfect complement to his tough mannered dialogue. The words he speaks are almost as imposing as his physique in this film and it is really refreshing to watch.
But the spotlight shines more on one member of the ensemble than any other and that is Michelle Williams. This isn’t surprising in any way shape or form considering that Williams is downright dynamite in literally everything she’s in. Her subtle yet ferocious performance is riveting to watch and begs you to never take your eyes off of her for fear you may miss something in her craft. Williams’ performance holds so many layers and runs the full course of emotion. If Charlie Plummer is able to make us fear for his safety, Williams is able to make us feel for a mother’s grief. Whether it be the way her eyes tear across a boardroom full of rich old white men or her unrelenting dedication to finding her son without the help of Getty, Williams knocks it out of the park (yet again) and is it marvelous to witness.
And now, we have finally arrived at Christopher Plummer. After being accused of sexual harassment, Kevin Spacey, who was originally cast and had completed his role as John Paul Getty III, was blacklisted throughout Hollywood. Sensing that he had a really great film on his hands, director Ridley Scott refused to allow this blemish stain the film’s potential box office, awards, and critical success. Scott originally wanted Plummer for the role but the studio insisted on Spacey who was a much more high profile name at the time. With a little over a month before the film’s December release, Ridley Scott got his first choice, brought back Wahlberg and Williams. re-shot all of Spacey’s scenes with Plummer, re-edited and re-did the sound mix and still made the December release date. The effort is herculean and admirable but it all fails if Plummer does not deliver. So how is he you’re wondering? Plummer is soulless, cold, but most of all ruthless. Instead of commanding the screen to always give him attention like Kevin Spacey usually does, he remains hidden. Hidden within the shadows of the lies and betrayal that he is so infamous for. The dialogue rolls off of his tongue so gracefully yet with such force. He is always watching and always listening to what is going on but he prefers to deal with matters his way and lives his life the way he wants to live it. Plummer is an evil, evil man and he plays that exceptionally well. It’s easy to see how Spacey would’ve played this. But under mountains of distracting makeup, I fail to see how his performance could’ve been as authentic and memorable as Plummer’s. It is a juicy role with enough screen time to warrant serious awards consideration for the now 88-year-old actor.
“All the Money in the World” is easily the best Ridley Scott film within recent memory. With a brilliant ensemble cast, a riveting story and an admirable work ethic that shows on every inch of the screen, Scott has created something much more nuanced and tense than his past few films. He succeeds at making us care about the characters and what is happening to them. He makes us understand that it isn’t money that buys happiness. It gives you options, just as he had the option to remove Spacey from the cut of the final film and put Christopher Plummer in at the last minute. Scott’s happiness comes from his love of filmmaking and he didn’t have to do what he did with “All The Money In The World.” He could’ve let it go to release and surely, it would’ve flopped at the box office and been ripped apart by critics. Instead, because of his love of filmmaking, us the audience, the studio and Ridley Scott can all find happiness in the fact that the right thing was done and we got a solid piece of entertainment in the process.
THE FINAL SCORE
THE GOOD – A trio of fantastic performances and Ridley Scott’s sure handed direction makes for an entertaining and solid final product.
THE BAD – A little slow at times plus if you’re looking for continuity errors due to the re-shoots, you’re going to find them.