On the money.
Ridley Scott is one of those directors that when he’s on his game, there’s no better director in Hollywood. When Alien: Covenant disappointed back in the summer, many began to worry about his next film setting itself up for an awards season run, All the Money in the World, Based on John Pearson’s 1995 book “Painfully Rich: The Outrageous Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Heirs of J. Paul Getty.” The film became embroiled in controversy when one of its stars, Kevin Spacey, was accused of sexual misconduct against several people, including under aged boys. In an effort to distance itself from the disgraced actor, director Ridley Scott pulled off the impossible task of re-shooting Spacey’s scenes with a new actor, Christopher Plummer, and editing Spacey out of the movie in time for the film’s planned December release. With all of the controversy and intrigue surrounding the film, did Scott’s gamble pay dividends?
Based on true events, All the Money in the World tells the story of the kidnapping of 16-year-old John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer). Although he is the richest man in the world, J. Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer) refuses to pay his grandson’s ransom. With very little help and even less time, Gail Harris (Michelle Williams), John’s mother, and ex-CIA operative Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg), must find a way to rescue John before it’s too late.
As mentioned earlier, the film was engulfed in controversy due to its association with tarnished actor Kevin Spacey, and somehow director Ridley Scott and newly cast J. Paul Getty Christopher Plummer were able to re-shoot all of Spacey’s scenes without the use of special effects. We all know Scott is a visionary director, and when he is on his A-game, he’s a force to be reckoned with. In an emergency and seemingly impossible situation, the fact Scott was able to finish the film in time for its release is an achievement in it of itself, regardless of the film’s overall quality.
The gamble manages to pay off immensely, as two veterans manage to deliver a film that undoubtedly benefits from Kevin Spacey’s re-casting with Christopher Plummer. Plummer embodies Getty to his core, a creepy, surly, cheap billionaire who only cares for things, not people. While no one would dare question his acting prowess, there was something about the early trailers with Kevin Spacey as J. Paul Getty that just felt out of place. Spacey was pancaked with makeup and special effects to resemble an elderly gentleman, and the studio wanted him instead of Plummer, who was Scott’s first choice, to play the role since he is a bigger name actor. Christopher Plummer is able to portray Getty in a manner that Kevin Spacey never could since Spacey is not an old man, and Plummer is able to personify Getty in expert fashion due to his elderly status. Plummer’s recent nomination for the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture is very deserved, and his performance should also earn him a Best Supporting Actor nomination for the Oscars as well.
His performance also lends itself well to the story, which is nothing short of harrowing and thrilling. Of course the film more than likely over dramatizes and possibly even adds fictitious events to this true tale, but Scott captivates us with J. Paul Getty’s greedy demeanor, the relationship between victim and captor, and the race to find Paul before he experiences irreparable damage.
Michelle Williams shines as Gail Harris, as she is able to convincingly portray a woman not only desperate to get her son back, but willing to do whatever it takes to do so, including fighting Getty’s empire. Her performance nabbed her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Motion Picture- Drama, and could be up for an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress as well. Despite my initial concerns due to his presence in the film, Mark Wahlberg manages to acquit himself well in the film. Wahlberg avoids his action-star tendencies and instead trades them for a more calm and collected professional demeanor, which he is able to pull off well enough. Charlie Plummer also does a fine job as the kidnapped Getty, and his relationship with one of his captors, played by Romain Duris, functions well in the film and adds another layer of complexity to the kidnapping.
One aspect of the film audiences must get through, however, is the first hour of the film. While it starts off strong by showing us the relationship between J. Paul Getty and his grandson Paul, the first hour drags for far too long, as we are constantly reminded of how difficult it is to get ahold of the elder Mr. Getty and his unwillingness to pay his grandson’s ransom. This could have easily been trimmed to make the film shorter than its 132 minute running time, as we get the point very early on in the film.
Despite a whirlwind of controversy and a somewhat slow first act, All the Money in the World is a directorial achievement unlike any in the history of cinema and a compelling drama. Most studios and directors would have delayed a film’s release under All the Money in the World‘s circumstances, but in the hands of a true auteur in Ridley Scott, one has to wonder why we panicked for him, the studio, and the film in the first place. It also helps that its overhauling changes more than likely made for a better final product, but the performances nonetheless are nothing short of spectacular, chief among them Christopher Plummer’s. All the Money in the World is an on the money drama, and might walk away with a couple of Academy Awards along with some Golden Globes come this awards season.
Rating: 3/4 Stars. Pay Full Price.
All the Money in the World stars Michelle Williams, Christopher Plummer, Mark Wahlberg, Charlie Plummer, Romain Duris, Andrew Buchan, and Timothy Hutton. It is in theaters December 25th.