When Director Ridley Scott opted to fire Kevin Spacey and remove him from this movie because of sexual assault allegations, some wondered if the product could still be salvaged. Turns out, it was. Scott was able to successfully replace Spacey with Oscar winner Christopher Plummer and the move appeared seamless and not at all awkward.
But, how was the overall movie?
Before getting into the answer, let’s breakdown what story the movie is telling. The film centers on the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer). The reason for that abduction is that the young man’s grandpa is J. Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer), who at the time of the hostage taking was the richest person on the planet.
The picture explores JP Getty’s response to the kidnapping, his hiring of a private agent named Fletcher (Mark Wahlberg) to handle negotiating with the kidnappers and the boy’s mother Gail (Michelle Williams) who will stop at nothing to save her son.
Scott and his crew managed to put together a well made thriller even with the production problem. However, despite being a competent cinematic experience, the picture falls short in its depth and entertainment value. For example, the moments focusing on the abduction and subsequent hostage negotiations offer some dramatic thrills, yet the kidnapping and rescue process as a whole was dull at times.
The execution feels simple and generic. This could be because the dramatics of the kidnapping at times appear to be somewhat detached from the Getty empire. Despite the film telling the audience all it needs to know about the Gettys and how the kidnapping went, the full weight of how the two are connected is not well featured.
Even the inclusion of a ‘race against time’ device, with the clock running out to save the young Getty, is hampered by an investigation that appears slow moving and undramatic.
Everything about the older Getty, meanwhile, is hit or miss. Christopher Plummer’s performance is easily the best part of the entire film. He commands the screen and every time he speaks it’s gripping. An audience can fully appreciate the power Getty wields with his enormous wealth.
At the same time, though, it feels as though the character is shallow. We as an audience don’t really learn much about Getty other than that he loves his money and doesn’t want to give much of it away. Plummer isn’t given much of a chance to evoke much pathos or display the true emotions Getty was going through.
Still, the performance from Plummer does a lot of good for the picture, but he’s not alone. Also lending great acting to the picture was Michelle Williams, who poured emotion into the character. The audience can really appreciate her desperation, worry and stress. While Plummer may have given the stronger performance overall, the emotional core comes from Williams.
Then there’s Mark Wahlberg, who is a bit miscast here, as he doesn’t offer the character much subtlety as a negotiator. With that said, though, during the more intense moments, Wahlberg is solid.
Credit has to go to Scott and cinematographer Dariusz Wolski, too, for creating a fantastic visual look to the movie. The film is well shot and has a very dreary look, which sets the dramatic mood and gives an identity. The film also goes to great lengths to recreate the setting for this period piece, so like its characters, the film is believable.
What “All the Money in the World” offers is an alright drama that has intensity as well as some intrigue regarding the Getty empire. However, there’s a feeling that there could have been more when it comes to both the kidnapping and the senior Getty himself. 3.5 out of 5.