#REVIEW: “ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD”
Review by David Baldwin for Mr. Will Wong
On a late summer evening in 1973, Paul Getty (Charlie Plummer) is kidnapped. Paul is one of the heirs to the fortune of the richest man in the world, oil tycoon J. Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer). The kidnappers demand a $17-million ransom for his return, but Getty is not willing to part with his money. Desperate, Paul’s mother Gail (Michelle Williams) must find another way to pay the ransom before it is too late.
I wish I was more riveted by the story at the heart of All the Money in the World, but found so much of this kidnapping story to be mundane and boring. There are a handful of scenes that are genuinely thrilling (including a graphic mutilation scene that looks more violent than it is), but they are sandwiched between endless exposition and drawn out conversations about money. I can admire Director Ridley Scott trying to shoot for a 1970s aesthetic in both look and feel, but felt like this story deserved a much faster pace.
But whether we want to admit it or not, this Film is not really about the kidnapping or even J. Paul Getty. It’s about Scott’s unprecedented choice to not let a real world event destroy the efforts made by hundreds of cast and crew in creating this Film. His decision to recast Kevin Spacey with Plummer a month before the Film’s release date was ambitious to say the least. The fact that he was able to reshoot all of Spacey’s scenes and recut the Film in that amount of time is mindboggling. But he pulled it off and there is virtually no detrimental effect to the storyline or the Film itself. Yes, you will still notice a few brief shots of Spacey and some CGI assistance if you look hard enough, but it looks seamless otherwise. I am not the biggest fan of Scott’s oeuvre, but this is an impressive feat that I doubt many other Directors could have pulled off.
Even more outstanding is Plummer’s performance. With literally no time to prepare, the Oscar-winning Actor has gifted us with something truly exceptional. His Getty is ice-cold, a man driven entirely by his wealth and possessions. The warmth in the early scenes hides some not-so subtle secrets, and Plummer sells every moment with a calculating and villainous appearance that will chill you down to the bone. He is in command of the screen with his very presence, taking control without uttering a word. His work here is riveting and magnificent – you are scared of him, but you cannot bear to look away.
And no matter how much effort Williams and Mark Wahlberg put into their characters, they suffer under the weight of Plummer’s performance. They both deliver solid work, but they simply cannot match his intensity or bravado. And while I enjoyed Romain Duris’ kidnapper Cinquanta, the only cast member who even comes close to matching the elder Plummer is the ironically named Charlie Plummer as the kidnapped Paul Getty. The relative unknown goes through hell and back and his face is beautifully expressive. Even at the Film’s dullest moments, he truly makes us feel the pain he is going through. He says very little, but he has a sizeable impact on each of his scenes.
As a Film, All the Money in the World is a bit of a painstaking bore. It tells an interesting story, but does so in the most unremarkable way possible. But by taking the Film back and reshooting it, Scott has made a bold statement as a Director and as a result, has given us a transformative performance from Christopher Plummer that demands all of our attention. I just wish the Movie was as strong as he is.
Sony Pictures Canada release ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD Christmas Day.