Review: All the Money in the World
Director Ridley Scott, upon hearing about Kevin Spacey’s suspect behavior, decided to remove him entirely from a completed film, mere weeks before the release date. Scott, having decades of experience, seemed to jump at the chance, sounding extremely confident in interviews when questioned on the matter. So, did he pull it off? The answer is a resounding ‘yes’. With scenes interwoven so seamlessly, you would have been none the wiser had you been living under a rock for the last two months. Christopher Plummer gets the job done as the eldest Getty, selling the talk and gait of one that is truly wealthy and oblivious to others’ plight, even when it stares him in the face. The film he is in, however, is extremely boring. For a kidnapping thriller, this film seems to not care about keeping you engaged as it simply just goes through the motions.
John Paul Getty is a wealthy man, at one point, he was the wealthiest in the world in fact. When his Paul Dano-hippie-looking grandson, John Paul Getty III, gets kidnapped in Italy, his family is asked to pay an insane ransom of 14 million dollars. Old man Getty simply won't cough up the dough, he makes excuse after excuse that all amount to him hanging onto every penny he has. Grandson John Paul is stuck with bumbling local criminals, clearly out of their depth, trying their best to land a big score.
Michelle Williams gives it her all as the headstrong mother of the kidnapped Getty trying hard to get her son home only to have to deal with the worst cheapskate ever. Her performance is Jennifer Jason Leigh in The Hudsucker Proxy with a dash of Cate Blanchett in The Aviator. It’s a good performance in a film that doesn’t bothered to match her. Also aiding in the hunt is Mark Wahlberg, who plays an ex-CIA agent employed by Mr. Getty, Fletcher Chase. Wahlberg could have been played by anyone because Wahlberg just ‘Marks up’ the party, adding nothing to the role at all and opposite Williams he is just background noise or as Williams herself puts it, “Lazy!”.
That’s that story in a nutshell and it is extremely tough to care after the 60-minute mark. It simply just runs out of ways to make you care about a boy whose grandpa is basically Scrooge McDuck, more in love with material things that stay the same and never disappoint. They say the film’s title two times throughout the film, essentially screaming, “You can have ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD but you can never buy love!!” It’s as subtle as a rhino reenacting the laser scene in Entrapment. One interesting beat in the film is actor Romain Duris, who plays a crook with a heart of gold, Cinquanta. He begins to like the young Getty and tries to make his Hell a little smoother after each turn. His performance and character however are not enough keep things afloat in the constantly flat yarn.
The film is shot rather beautifully by Dariusz Wolski, making him the MVP here. He deserves as much love as Scott when it comes to the Plummer integration. Even with all of the film completed, having to match previous work had to have been tough even with cheat sheets. The work done here is admirable and may serve as a warning to actors that screw up royally. “Don’t make me call Dariusz!!” you’d shout or, “Do you wanna get Plummered?!”.
Erase the Spacey is probably all this film is going to be remembered for, unfortunately. An abduction film will no fangs, despite the horrific dangers shown (a bloody ear-slicing scene), makes for a boring time at the movies. The film ends with text stating that this was based on true events with some dramatic elements added to spice up the story. It made me laugh because whatever they added did not help make it engaging in the slightest. A heavy-handed metaphor in a scene involving newspapers flying in the wind will unintentionally be the funniest thing in 2017’s cinematic run. Its tone is so off base that you will wonder how such a ridiculous moment landed in a thriller about family abduction. I’d be lying if I said it was a terrible scene because it was a brief salvation from such a sluggish ransom piece.