All the Money in the World has been getting some attention, but for the wrong reasons. Director Ridley Scott reshot portions of the movie, replacing actor Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer as billionaire John Paul Getty. Plummer may have been Scott’s original choice, and from a technical standpoint, I can assure both of my readers that the insertion of Plummer into the movie is flawless, in that I can’t tell the difference, and given Spacey’s style of scene-chewing, the audience may be the better for it.
But how is the rest of the movie?
It’s decent, but nothing spectacular.
Based on true events, the movie tells the story of the kidnapping of Getty’s grandson Paul while the lad was walking the streets of Rome. His kidnappers demanded $17 million. At the time, Paul was a juvenile and his mother had full custody along with his three siblings, but she and her husband were divorced and she took no money in the settlement in exchange for full custody, a fact that baffled Plummer’s Getty. As such, Gail Harris-Getty (Michelle Williams) doesn’t have any money at all, and is in fact broke. And then the old man declares on television that he will not pay a single penny in ransom.
What follows is something of a battle of wills between Gail and someone who may be the real villain of the movie, her ex-father-in-law. Though Getty does dispatch a former CIA agent-turned security specialist named Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg) to assist in Paul’s safe return, Getty is also interested in bringing the ransom price down as much as possible for a wide variety of reasons best left to be discovered by the audience. To Getty, his legacy is important, but not important enough to just write a check for $17 million.
All things being equal, this movie seemed very by-the-numbers, and given how good Williams can be, that’s especially disappointing. I actually found myself wishing the movie were more about Getty, a distant figure who believed himself the reincarnation of the Roman Emperor Hadrian. As it is, Getty is a somewhat minor figure. He disappears for long stretches as we see Gail, Fletcher, and the Italian police look for clues to find Paul and see Paul bond a bit with one of his kidnappers. As it is, it wasn’t a bad movie, but not a particularly noteworthy one either. Eight out of ten souvenir artwork fake-outs.
Plummer really shines in this ultimately lackluster movie.