John Paul Getty III is kidnapped while in Italy. His mother is distraught goes to her ex-father-in-law oil baron and the boy’s grandfather, John Paul Getty Sr. to help pay her son’s 17 million dollar ransom. He won’t spend a penny to help her and sends Fletcher Chase to advise him of the situation.
All the Money in the World is a solid film from a capable director. Ridley Scott has had a spotty track record as of late, with his new Alien movies Prometheus and Covenant, being so polarising, as well as his handling of Exodus: Gods and Kings and the laughable defence he had for whitewashing the story of Moses and Pharo Ramesses II. This is at odds with what happened with All the Money in the World, but that is neither here nor there. Here, however, he navigates some tricky waters with a simplicity and grace that other directors would not have the nerve to do.
Scott is backed up by some top-notch performances: Christopher Plummer does a chilling turn as Getty Snr, Mark Walberg is affable as Fletcher Chase. Special mention must also be made of Charlie Plummer as John Paul Getty III and Roman Duris as Cinquanta, one of John Paul’s kidnappers. Despite Charlie Plummer’s young age and English not being Duris’ first language, they can have some great chemistry and can hold an audience’s attention during some incredibly tricky scenes. But the film really belongs Michelle Williams who, as Gail Harris, takes the audience on an emotional rollercoaster, walking the fine line between real emotion and dramatic melodrama. She will be one to look out for this award season and it is great to see that with her, Jessica Chastain in Molly’s Game and Francis McDormand in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, there are some great leading female characters this awards season.
Despite it being a solid outing all round from cast and crew, it is marred by probably the one thing it will be remembered for, the recasting of Kevin Spacey, who was originally cast as John Paul Getty, although Christopher Plummer, as already said, does a fantastic job and the crew similarly turn in three weeks of reshoots at the same high standard as the rest of the film. I probably shouldn’t have given anytime to this part of the review as it is just eating the word count.
The film is clearly trying to do something with the subject matter, the way that the rich live and how they view the world. In the premise, Scott has the perfect comment on the corrupting nature of money; Getty Snr is so consumed by owning things that he tries to use his grandson’s ransom payment as a way to get custody of his grandchildren because, as he says, they are his. There are so many moments in the film where it is revealed how far Getty has fallen regarding morality it is hard to count them all. And in each of these moments, you feel for the mother who cannot afford her son’s impossible ransom.
Award season this year starts off strong with All the Money in the World; a great well-made tale with an interesting story and fantastic performances. It is one to invest your time in.
You can watch All the Money in the World in cinemas now