ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD
Starring: Michelle Williams, Mark Wahlberg and Christopher Plummer
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Rated: PG 13
Running time: 2 hrs 12 mins
J. Paul Getty was a son of a bitch.
The first person in the WORLD to accumulate a fortune worth one BILLION dollars, he was a hard-driven man who had no time for family. So when his assistant announces that the police are on the phone because his grandson has been kidnapped, it’s no surprise when he instructs her to tell them that he is “not available.” Thanks grandpa!
Based on a true story (one I clearly remember from my youth), “All the Money in the World” is a tale that lives up to the old saying that “money can’t buy everything.” We meet 16 year-old Paul Getty (Charlie Plummer, no relationship to Christopher) as he prowls around the red light area of Rome. Clearly under-age he is scolded by the women he approaches and walks along the road. Suddenly a van pulls up and Paul is swept inside and quickly blindfolded. He is secluded out in the country and his mother Gail (an always great Michelle Williams) is contacted. The kidnappers want $17 million for Paul’s return. They are unaware that, like the majority of the Getty heirs, she has no money. She turns to the boy’s grandfather (Christopher Plummer) for help. He gives her his answer when he is asked by a reporter how much he would pay to rescue his grandson – “Nothing.”
This film has gained some extra notoriety due to the fact that Kevin Spacey had originally been hired to play J. Paul Getty and that, in fact, the film was finished when news of Spacey’s alleged misdeeds was made public. In an unprecedented move, director Ridley Scott chose to replace Spacey with Christopher Plummer and reshoot every scene that had once featured Spacey. In six weeks’ time he managed to gather the entire cast and crew and pulled off a cinematic miracle by meeting the film’s original release date. And what an amazing cast.
Williams, who was heartbreaking in last year’s “Manchester by the Sea,” is the tough, no nonsense mother who puts her son first in every decision. She is cool and collected even when we, the audience, would be inconsolable. Wahlberg is a former CIA operative who now runs Getty’s personal security. He does his best, at Getty’s request, to negotiate with the kidnappers but finds little luck. But the film rightly belongs to Christopher Plummer. You can still watch the original trailer for “All the Money in the World” on YouTube, and you’ll come away with the feeling that Spacey would have given a strong performance. But here Plummer is more than strong. He’s brilliant. He’s taken a character that the audience should hate and somehow makes his actions seem sensible, no matter how little. Also, J. Paul Getty was 80 years old when Paul was kidnapped. Spacey is 58 and required a lot of make-up. Christopher Plummer is 88 and every year is ingrained on his still handsome face. He recently received a Golden Globe Award nomination for his performance here and I wouldn’t be surprised if that is soon followed by his third Academy Award nod (he won an Oscar in 2012).
Director Scott keeps the story moving and the technical aspects, from art direction to photography, are well deserving of praise. This is an amazing piece of filmmaking, made more so by the quirky back story, and is easily one of the best films of the year!