BY HALEY LENAUER
All the Money in the World, stars Mark Wahlberg, Michelle Williams, and Christopher Plummer, and is directed by Ridley Scott. It tells the story of the infamous kidnapping of Paul Getty III-played by Charlie Plummer-and details the challenges faced by Getty III and his mother Gail Harris-played by Michelle Williams-as they plead with Getty III’s oil tycoon grandfather J. Paul Getty to relinquish $17 million dollars to pay his kidnappers.
According to The Atlantic, the title “All the Money in the World” comes from a well-known line J. Paul Getty said in response to journalists when asked how much ransom money he would pay for the safe return of his grandson, “nothing.”
In order to remove the elephant from the room, I have to mention the removal of Kevin Spacey from the original production. Spacey was originally going to play J. Paul Getty but was removed when sexual allegations came out against him last year. In response, Ridley Scott brought on Christopher Plummer to replace him. According to Vulture and Hollywood Reporter, the entire reshoot process took place over only nine days.
My opinion is the same as others I have seen – if I didn’t know about the behind-the-scenes drama going into the movie, I wouldn’t have realized there was an actor switch. The scenes just fit so well, and Plummer does an excellent job in general-especially given the limited time for reshoots. In some respects, I thought it helped the overall product more, if not for the acting, then at least for the fact that they allowed an age-appropriate actor to play the role of Getty. In addition to that, Spacey’s “old man” makeup that you can see in the original trailer would have personally been a little distracting for me.
The acting was great all around from all the performers; however, Plummer really shines in his portrayal of Getty. He gave the character more levity than was written for the character, and held scenes that might have otherwise potentially been a little slow. He really elevates the movie in a lot of ways just through his performance and interactions with the cast. To compare, some of the other characters, while played by talented actors, sometimes struggle to find their identity within the movie.
The story itself, from what I understand, is surprisingly accurate. Various sources like Time and Vanity Fair cover this in more detail. Some of the scenes that I had previously assumed might have been over-dramatized for the sake of Hollywood actually happened in real life, such as: the sympathy toward Getty III from one of his kidnappers, J. Paul Getty trying to turn this kidnapping into a tax deduction opportunity, or Getty III attempting to flee his kidnappers. If anything, the movie actually toned down some of the true life aspects for believability sake, such as how Getty’s imprisonment was actually more physically/psychologically traumatizing than what was shown on screen.
Directing wise, the story moves fairly well: the atmosphere is nice, the cinematography is pleasant, the pacing is typically pretty good outside of a few slower moments. My only complaint is the overall message/theme, which seems a little muddled. Is it a thriller, commentary of wealth vs. family, or a reflection on J. Paul Getty as a person? It seems to want to combine various elements without completely exploring them to their full potential.
Overall, I found the film to be pretty entertaining. It has some faults, but it also has a lot of strengths. If for nothing else, it’s worth checking out for Christopher Plummer’s acting contributions alone-he really puts a lot of passion into fleshing out this character. I would also recommend checking it out if you’re curious about learning more about this tragic family drama as it gets quite a bit right with facts. Between this and the movie The Post, there have been a fair amount of good historical thrillers in theaters this awards season.