Film Review: All the Money in the World (2018)

2018 in Cinema:

All the Money in the World, 2018

Directed by: Ridley Scott

Starring: Michelle Williams, Christopher Plummer, Mark Wahlberg, Romain Duris

 

This film had no right to be as good as it was. All the Money in the World was one of the major sufferers from all the sexual harassment allegations which came in 2017. Kevin Spacey was initially hired to play J. Paul Getty, but after numerous allegations was made against him he was fired and all of his scenes had to be reshot with Christopher Plummer (A Beautiful Mind) taking over the role. Considering how little time they had to reshoot all the scenes, not to mention hiring someone new and having him learn all the lines and get the chemistry with the rest of the team, this film should have been a mess. But, if you didn’t know in advance about this film’s last-minute troubles, you wouldn’t have guessed it by watching the film. Christopher Plummer plays J. Paul Getty brilliantly, and it is not at all noticeable that the film was largely shot in two completely separate times.

All the Money in the World is based on the true story of J. Paul Getty, founder of Getty Oil and one-time richest man in the world, whose grandson, John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer) was kidnapped, with a $17m ransom placed on his head. The film largely focuses on the actions of J. Paul Getty, who was notorious for not wanting to spend money (and his initial refused to emet the $17m ransom) and on Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg, Daddy’s Home 2), an advisor and former CIA operative, and Gail Harris (Michelle Williams, The Greatest Showman), J. Paul Getty’s daughter-in-law and mother to kidnapped J. Paul Getty III.

The film is a nicely paced suspenseful thriller, with negotiations and emotional dilemmas the forefront of the time between Getty III’s kidnapping and the end of the film. Getty Sr.’s refusal to pay the ransom just adds another layer to the tension already existing between Getty Sr. and Gail, with Gail having recently divorced Getty Jr. (Andrew Buchan) and keeping custody of their children (despite not asking for any money). It also adds a nice mystery to it, with a plot development of whether the kidnapping is legitimate: despite us seeing him kidnapped and being held hostage, there is a large feeling that it may all be Getty III’s tactic to take some money away from his notoriously tight grandfather. It’s just another layer of the plot as time passes by, and allowing for the slight element of doubt into our minds allows an extra layer of excitement to the outcome.

It is also beautifully acted; not just Christopher Plummer but Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams both put on a brilliant performance. Michelle has to be angry, sad and hopeful throughout, and she hits every emotion. However, what do the police actually do in this film? It’s probably the biggest criticism I have. Getty III is the grandson of one of the wealthiest men in the world and is being held ransom for $17m, and, yet, the police don’t seem to be doing too much to assist. They have one real moment in the second act, but once their attack plan fails they disappear again. Adding to that the fact nobody from the public wants to help, nor does any lead investigator offer her any solutions to the ransom money demands, not even Getty Jr. helps too much (although he is largely crippled due to drugs and alcohol by this point). With such a high-profile kidnapping it seems baffling that Gail has no alternatives. It’s also quite a slow film at parts, with 15-minutes easily able to be shaved off the run time, but it doesn’t hamper it too much.

A film which has managed to survive one of its leading actors being fired last-minute and yet able to produce a film with this high a quality is mightily impressive. The film has a nicely-paced plot (although one or two scenes do feel like they drag a little too long) and the acting throughout is effective. I would have appreciated a little more realism (with regards to what happens with a high-profile kidnapping) but it had enough comedy, suspense and intrigue that I allowed the negatives to pass.

 

Plot: * * *            Acting: * * * *   Writing: * * *     Presentation: * * * *

Overall Rating: * * * ½

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