‘All the Money in the World’ movie review

Category: Movies

All the Money in the World garnered plenty of hype before it was completed because of the recasting and reshooting of one of the main characters. After the debacle with Kevin Spacey, he was completely wiped away from the movie and his scenes were reshot with Christopher Plummer taking the role of J. Paul Getty. Director Ridley Scott acknowledged to the private media screening audience that he had never met Plummer until a few weeks prior and the actor immediately agreed to take over the part after reading the script. “I was thrilled when Ridley called me to do it – I had always wanted to work with him and this is such a fascinating subject. I’m fond of playing real people because the research is fascinating and what an extraordinary character to play. And it is so well-written that I completely jumped at it,” Plummer said.

The film is based on actual events. According to screenwriter David Scarpa, “The kidnapping provided the spine of the script, although we do go back in time to the childhood of the boy and background into who Getty was. The biggest structural challenge was balancing the kidnapping drama with a classic biopic and we sort of smashed those genres together. The idea was to move back and forth between this thriller and this Shakespearean family drama at the same time.” Indeed, the film jumps back and forth through time as the audiences puts the pieces together of this dysfunctional but extremely powerful family.

J. Paul Getty (Plummer) was the richest man in the world. He was a master at making and keeping money, but his personal life was a shambles. He was estranged from his family but eventually was able to forge a relationship with his son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren, albeit a little strained.

Michelle Williams plays Gail Harris (Getty) who divorced John Paul Getty II (Andrew Buchan). Their oldest son, J. Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer), aka Paul, was a rebel. When the 16-year-old was kidnapped in Italy, the kidnappers thought they could make a quick 17 million dollars. After all, that was chump change to Getty.

Gail had no money of her own and Getty refused to pay the ransom. As the film progresses, audiences see the ruthlessness of this man who does, in some corner of his heart, have a little compassion.

Mark Wahlberg plays Fletcher Chase, a tough negotiator and cunning former agent with contacts and influences around the world. He was on Getty’s payroll and was tasked by Getty to get his grandson back, but as the days and weeks passed, he realized things might not be what they seem on the outside.

The story of the kidnapping made headlines around the world in 1973. After all, this was the wealthiest man in the world who stated he would not pay the ransom. The toughest character is Gail who never gave up on her son and looked for any and every way to get him back.
Audiences will undoubtedly come away from the theater thinking what major SOBs some of the characters were. Getty II was a drug addict and Getty III died of a drug overdose at the age of 54. With all the money in the family, some might wonder how and why they became the basic losers they were. The trappings of wealth are not an excuse.

The kidnapping is played out on screen as audiences see the tragic story unfold and get a peek inside the life of J. Paul Getty, oil tycoon and patriarch. The film shows the quirkiness of this man who actually had a pay phone in his mansion for guests. His stinginess knew no bounds. He could out-Scrooge Scrooge!

As depicted in the film, Getty refused to pay the ransom for two reasons. First he didn’t want to place his other grandchildren (14 in all) in danger. After all, if one was kidnapped and returned for millions of dollars, they the rest would be targets. And second, he said he did not want to spread the idea that lawlessness would be rewarded. – two very solid reasons for not paying. But audiences might wonder if they were the only reasons. After all, this man held onto every penny he had.

All the Money in the World is a long, drawn-out drama that serves to enlighten audiences about this man who has been somewhat mythologized. It is, however, an interesting story and an intriguing film. Plummer, Williams, and Wahlberg are wonderful in their parts and the actors and the film will garner award nominations this awards season. The film is rated R for language, some violence, disturbing images, and brief drug content. The movie opens December 25, 2017.

About the Reviewer

Francine Brokaw writes about products, travel, and entertainment. She has been published in national and international newspapers and magazines as well as Internet websites. She has written her own book, Beyond the Red Carpet The World of Entertainment Journalists, from Sourced Media Books.

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