Well, Ridley Scott did it. After a tumultuous two months that led All The Money in the World’s original star, Kevin Spacey, to be edited out and recast with Christopher Plummer, Scott has managed to deliver a film that is coherent, which is an achievement under the circumstances.
Whether it’s fully complete, though, is another story.
All the Money in the World dramatizes the kidnapping of oil tycoon J. Paul Getty’s (Plummer) grandson, J. Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer, unrelated), and his family’s quest to get the elder Getty ransom. With Getty unwilling to pay, the boy’s fate rests with his mother Gail (Michelle Williams) and the tycoon’s adviser, Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg).
With a stacked cast like this, supported by Timothy Hutton and Romain Duris, the expectations are certainly high.
And, for the most part, they’re met.
The movie’s script, written by David Scarpa based off John Pearson’s Painfully Rich: The Outrageous Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Heirs of J. Paul Getty, is certainly well-structured and tight. Williams and Wahlberg are at their best, with the former turning in a strong follow-up to her Oscar-nominated performance in 2016’s Manchester by the Sea. Scott, just recently turned 80, shows that he can still deliver a compelling drama after last year’s dismal Alien: Covenant. In short, the parts are there for a great film.
Despite this, we’re left with a good one. All the Money in the World serves as both a crime thriller and a family drama, balancing the stakes of young Paul’s kidnapping with Gail’s constant plea for Getty to pay the ransom. While both are compelling on film, the movie never truly breaks through the screen. I can see Gail crying for her son, but I can’t feel her despair. I can detect family tension, but I never feel in the middle of it all. As the film continues throughout
its two hours and 12 minutes, the disparity becomes more noticeable.
Ironically, the film’s best component is the elder Plummer. Reportedly Scott’s first choice before being pressured to cast a “bigger star” in Spacey. Plummer alleviates any fear one may have had going into the film.
As Getty, Plummer brings a certain pompousness to the role, infusing a certain charisma to the frugal, close-minded businessman, almost like a comedic Captain Von Trapp.
Is it Oscar-worthy? Not quite, but it’s certainly entertaining to watch.
All the Money in the World is certainly not a bad film. In fact, it’s probably the best cinematic achievement of the year solely due to its existence. Yet, despite the ingredients for greatness, the film manages to be a solid “good.”