ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD Review: 8 out of 10 (The Rich Die Trying)
ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD has become a very talked about film in 2017 well before its opening. The film is directed by Ridley Scott and written by David Scarpa, based on John Pearson's 1995 book Painfully Rich: The Outrageous Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Heirs of J. Paul Getty. The film stars Michelle Williams, Christopher Plummer, Mark Wahlberg, Romain Duris, Andrew Buchan, and Timothy Hutton. Based on true events of the early 70s, the film depicts the kidnapping of a young John Paul Getty III in Italy by an organized crime regime, his devoted mother, Gail, played by Michelle Williams, desperately attempts to convince his wealthy grandfather, oil tycoon J. Paul Getty (Plummer) to pay the ransom. When he refuses, Gail allies herself with Getty's business manager and former CIA operative Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg) to set her son free, or convince Getty to change his mind before it's too late.
The film has had the Hollywood spotlight due to the fact that Kevin Spacey originally was cast and portrayed the eldest Getty, appearing in the film's initial marketing campaign. The film was fairly complete and "in the can." However, after multiple sexual assault allegations were leveled against Spacey, the role was recast with Christopher Plummer, who was Scott's original choice for the role. Scenes were reshot just a month prior to the film's release. Reshoots with Plummer began on November 20th and finished on the 29th, with the first footage of him in the role released in a new trailer the same day. It is an unusual circumstance but one that seems to have paid off for the film.
ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD might bill itself as a crime thriller, but the movie plays as more of a slow burn drama that reaches an early level of conflict but never really advances the tension. The movie creates an interesting setup and certainly bills Getty as a repugnant and disgusting human, with Gail as the ever faithful mother. But the film seems to run out of things for Wahlberg's agent to do early on and so his character seems sidelined in a fairly long second act that feels very repetitive as it hits some of the same beats again and again with hostage negotiations, pleads to Getty, and desperate kidnappers. In other words, the film feels a bit long and seems to run out of things to do without many advancements in the plot. In some ways comparing the *real story* of the kidnapping seems to have some more dramatic moments, although it also becomes clear that some of the few moments of heightened thrills from the movie are artificial. Plummer's J. Paul Getty is the jewel of the movie here as a relentlessly selfish billionaire who is willing to do anything for a dollar. His performance brings out the monstrous and inhuman side to this infamous billionaire. One must wonder if a Spacey cut for the film remains intact and how that cut might have played--albeit stronger or weaker.
ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD is still a solid film with great performances all around, though Wahlberg is minimized. It is a technical achievement, no doubt, and a testimony to Ridley Scott being one of the leading directors of this age.