Apparently, J. Paul Getty was a monster of a man and liked it that way. All the Money in the World tells the fascinating tale of the real-life kidnapping of his grandson, John Paul Getty Ill (Charlie Plummer) in 1973. The richest man in the world at the time, and a notorious penny pincher Getty (Christopher Plummer) steadfastly refused to pay the ransom. In Ridley Scott’s fascinating, if slightly long thriller Christopher Plummer (Return of the Pink Panther) is the standout, playing a man we love to hate.
Plummer’s performance is even more remarkable given the circumstances around his casting. Filming had already been completed with Kevin Spacey in the role of Getty before the actor found himself engulfed in multiple allegations of criminal sexual abuse. In a bid to save the film from negative publicity, Scott decided to reshoot all of Spacey’s scenes with Plummer at a reported cost of $10 million. Honestly, I can’t imagine Spacey would have been added convincing in the role. He’s too young and lacks noxious attitude Plummer plays so well.
Unfortunately, the rest of the film isn’t as interesting as he is. At the beginning of the film, Getty’s 16-year-old grandson Paul is living la dolce vita in Rome when he is grabbed off the street in the dark, thrown into the back of a van, and driven into the southern Italian countryside. The group of kidnappers, led by Cinquanta (Romain Duris), demand a $17 million ransom.
Paul’s father, John Paul Getty, Jr. (Andrew Buchanan) is useless. Strung out on drugs in Morocco. Paul’s mother Abigail (Michelle Williams, Manchester By the Sea) lives in Rome, and is desperate to pay the ransom, and get her son back. But she’s had no contact with the Getty’s since divorcing Jr. years before and has no money of her own. So that leaves Getty himself – and he won’t pay a penny because as he says to a group of reporters, if he rewards the blackmailers who have kidnapped one of his 14 grandchildren, they might be encouraged to abduct the others. Cold-hearted indeed.
Getty does bring in Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg, Deepwater Horizon), one of his most trusted negotiators who happens to be a former CIA agent, assigned to bring Paul home. You’d think this would signal some serious action sequences, but…nope. It’s a strangely bland role that has Wahlberg wearing Clark Kent glasses and talking about “deals” repeatedly. Maybe Mark wanted to take a shot a more serious role here, but he’s miscast. Michelle Williams continues to prove she’s one of most talented actresses working in Hollywood today, as the family outsider determined to rescue the son she loves, money be damned.
All the Money in the World is probably about 15 minutes too long, and the Mark Wahlberg casting is questionable. Nonetheless, kudos to Ridley Scott for making the recasting decision. The opportunity to watch Christopher Plummer as J. Paul Getty is one I would highly recommend.
The DVD release includes deleted scenes (none involving Kevin Spacey), and three ‘making of’ featurettes, one of which (“Recast, Reshot, Reclaimed”) deals with the recasting of J. Paul Getty.
Movie title: All the Money in the World (2017)
Director(s): Ridley Scott
Actor(s): Mark Wahlberg Michelle Williams, Christopher Plummer Timothy Hutton, Olivia Grant , Romain Duris
Genre: Crime , Mystery, Thriller
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