All the Money in the World movie cast: Christopher Plummer, Charlie Plummer, Michelle Williams, Mark Wahlberg
All the Money in the World movie director: Ridley Scott
All the Money in the World movie rating: 2.5 stars
How much is too little? If you have all the money in the world, that question shouldn’t even be asked, especially if a precious life is at stake. It’s 1973 and super tycoon J Paul Getty has so much that he’s forgotten the amount: if you have to count it, you’re not a billionaire, he tells an admiring reporter from a magazine. But when his 16-year-old grandson John Paul Getty III is kidnapped in Rome, and the boy’s mother looks to him to pay the ransom, he refuses.
Based on a novel which recounted the incident and its complex, painful fallout, Ridley Scott’s movie is handsomely mounted with a couple of solid acts, especially the rich old man played by Christopher Plummer. (Kevin Spacey, who was meant to play Getty, was replaced double-quick after accusations of sexual harassment surfaced).
The kidnapping itself is a much too stretched out middle part, in which young Getty (Charlie Plummer, no relation to Christopher) changes hands, from one set of criminals to the other. Some of the tension leaches out as you wait for the film to settle down again: Michelle Williams, as the despairing mother, dealing with a difficult divorce (her husband is a weak-kneed alcoholic, and we barely register his presence) and squaring up to her father-in-law who is happy to stump up millions for an old painting, but nothing for his own blood, comes up with a measured act. Wahlberg is Getty Sr’s man, meant to negotiate with the bad guys, gets a lot of screen time, but not too many moments when he lifts off it.
And that’s because Scott is a little distant in the way he observes his characters and their dilemmas. The young boy is in mortal danger all through. There are severed limbs and flying bullets, but your heart is not as much in your mouth as it should be.
Still, the film nails the time and place. And as the victim, Charlie Plummer who doesn’t have much to do other than look increasingly bedraggled as he is shifted from one prison to another, leaves an impression.
You can have all the money in the world, and yet you can be alone, staring at your mortality: finally, this is what we come away with. The message could have been delivered with a little more subtlety, but it’s right, and rightfully, there.
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