Directed by Ridley Scott
Reviewed by Brandon Bishop
“Guns are for people who don’t have money.”
In 1973, grandson of wealthy oil magnate J. Paul Getty, John Paul Getty III, was kidnapped in Rome, Italy. His captors demanded a ransom of seventeen million US Dollars, which Getty I refused to pay. All the Money in the World, directed by Ridley Scott, depicts those events.
J. Paul Getty is portrayed in All the Money in the World by Christopher Plummer, who infamously replaced Kevin Spacey after production had completed, due to sexual assault allegations. The changes are almost completely seamless, and Plummer delivers one of the finest performances of his career, at age 88. He has a much greater presence in the film than one might expect based on the fact that his entire role has been reshot, and the film is no worse for wear. He is essentially the main character for around the first forty minutes or so of the movie, and appears frequently throughout. Ridley Scott and Christopher Plummer deliver a ruthless shark whose avarice completely overcomes him, leaving little sympathy even for his family. Plummer avoids caricature and villain stereotypes and injects the exact amount of humanity required to make us believe that Getty could indeed be a real world monster and hope that he’ll come around eventually.
Michelle Williams plays Abigail Getty, Paul III’s mother. Having had her big break on Dawson’s Creek, Williams has grown to give fantastic, nuanced performances, showing incredible range in Blue Valentine, My Week with Marilyn, and more recently, Manchester by the Sea. Yet again, she truly shines in All the Money in the World, with seasoned direction from Ridley Scott. Mark Wahlberg delivers the weakest performance, offering little to a role that frankly doesn’t give him much to work with.
Peppered with intense dialogue and with a director that doesn’t shy from taking a moment when he needs to, Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World delivers a taut, exciting thriller, even for those who know the ultimate outcome of the kidnapping. The movie fills in some private discussions and takes some liberties, particularly with the timing of some events, but largely follows the publicized events of the ordeal. Murky, unobtrusive cinematography highlights the shifty motivations of its characters. The effect is a film that is deceptively simple yet quite effective. Alongside The Martian, Ridley Scott has made one of his best films in years.