Thursday, January 4, 2018

Movie Review: "All the Money in the World" (2017)

Director: Ridley Scott
Year: 2017
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours, 12 minutes

The grandson and namesake of John Paul Getty, the wealthiest man in the world, is kidnapped and held for a $17 million dollar ransom. Unfortunately for the young John Paul Getty III, his billionaire oil tycoon grandfather has no intention of paying it.

True crime stories are a great source of inspiration for Hollywood. The high profile true-life kidnapping of 16-year-old John Paul Getty III is the inspiration for Ridley Scott's latest film "All the Money in the World." The film is written by David Scarpa, who only has two other writing credits to his name. It is based on the non-fiction book "Painfully Rich: the Outrageous Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Heirs of J. Paul Getty" by John Pearson. The movie stars Michelle Williams as Gail Harris, the mother of the abducted John Paul Getty III, played by Charlie Plummer. Joining them is Mark Wahlberg as Fletcher Chase, a former CIA agent who is hired by the eldest Getty to investigate the abduction. Last but not least is Christopher Plummer, who plays John Paul Getty Sr., the billionaire oil tycoon who never pays full price for anything and squeezes every last cent with an unbreakable grip. When John Paul Getty III is kidnapped, the abductors ask for a ransom of $17 million dollars, which is chump change to multi-billionaire J. Paul Getty Sr. However, he has no intention of paying the ransom, leaving the young John Paul with an uncertain future.

First, we cannot fully review this film without talking about the elephant in the room: the last minute recasting of the character of John Paul Getty, who was originally played by Kevin Spacey. It turns out, director Ridley Scott originally wanted Christopher Plummer to play this all-important role, but the studio told him to find a bigger name for the part. Thus, Kevin Spacey was hired in his stead. After Spacey's scandal broke and shocked Hollywood, Ridley Scott made the bold decision to recast Spacey's role, appointing Christopher Plummer to replace him. In a matter of weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Scott reshot all of J.P. Getty's scenes with Plummer and the rest of the cast and crew just one month before the film's release. This was a staggering, insane, risky decision, and a hefty feat at that. Unsurprisingly (but also very luckily), Christopher Plummer does a fantastic job as J.P. Getty. He is a wonderfully unlikable old son of a bitch who cares far more about dollars and cents than he does about people and relationships. The acting is tremendous not just from Christopher Plummer, but from Michelle Williams as well, who we believe is one of the most capable actresses working in Hollywood today. She puts on a hell of a performance and plays a worthy counterpart to Plummer. Charlie Plummer (no relation to the aforementioned Christopher Plummer) is also very good as the younger Getty, but he mostly has to sit and/or run around and be a hostage. Though Mark Wahlberg is more capable as Fletcher Chase than he has been in several of his more recent roles, we do feel he may be a bit of a miscast in this film.

All this being said, we can't judge a movie as a whole for the tremendous effort put in by Scott, Plummer, and the rest of the cast who swooped in at the zero hour to fix the mess created by one person. "All the Money in the World" is good, but it is not great. It is slowly paced at times and is a bit too long. It is an interesting story, but we don't really get as emotionally invested in the characters as we should for such a high-strung, nail-biting story. Ridley Scott's experience really shines through on screen, not just in the reshoots, but in the overall visual aesthetic of the film. On a technical level, "All the Money in the World" is a well put together piece of cinema, but as we said, it lacks the emotional punch, tension, and excitement we look for from a story like this. We hate to say it, but we left the theater feeling a bit underwhelmed by this movie despite its brilliant performances.


My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7.5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~7.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 78%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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