Director Ridley Scott has had some of the most beloved films – Alien (1979), Blade Runner (1982), and The Martian (2015) – and some of the bad ones – Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014), Prometheus (2012), Robin Hood (2010). Thus, his name attached to a film doesn’t always elicit excitement from the masses (take for example the lackluster results that Alien: Covenant received earlier this year). That said, All the Money in the World is an example of the high-caliber film that Scott is capable of making in spite of doing reshoots in order to replace Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer, just weeks before the film’s official release.
There is a lot of good elements of All the Money in the World
The film is based on the true story of John Paul Getty III’s (Charlie Plummer) kidnapping in 1973, and the subsequent negotiations held between the kidnappers, Gail Harris (Michelle Williams), and J. Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer). Gail Harris is John Paul’s mother and ex-daughter-in-law to the richest man in the world at that time. An interesting story on the surface, but one that is crafted cinematically very well by Scott, and well performed by most of the cast.
Williams is exceptional as usual and gets to really be the lead for a change. It’s on her shoulders that most of the emotional weight is put, and she carries it like it weighed nothing. That is to say, she seems so natural in her role dealing with the complex series of emotions her character goes through. Plummer is a powerhouse in the movie as well, and it’s hard to believe he only just recently filmed his scenes. I won’t deny that a part of me would love to see Kevin Spacey’s performance at the very least to compare who was the better Getty, but I’m definitely very happy with the version of the film that was released.
Romain Duris plays Cinquanta, one of the kidnappers who is tasked with keeping JPG III in line. He manages to elicit a lot of sympathy from the audience, despite his involvement with the crime. The character isn’t a traditional kidnapper as he genuinely seems to care about the young man in his custody, despite the irony of the situation. Not an easy performance to pull of, but Duris nails it.
It’s not all good
The weakest link is Mark Wahlberg, who plays Fletcher Case, a former C.I.A. agent who now works for Getty. He doesn’t do anything particularly wrong, and does have one great speech he gives late in the film…but it always feels like Mark Wahlberg. It seems like there could have been a better casting choice, but Matt Damon was busy filming Downsizing and Suburbicon.
There are some issues with the film, though. The runtime is over two hours, and there are a few scenes that could have been cut to easily trim it to an even two. One is late in the film, and while it is based on the true story, it is an overly long, contrived sequence of events to continue pushing the tension that really wasn’t needed at that point. Not that it’s bad, it’s just a little overkill. Additionally, the reshoots weren’t all done so cleanly. Early in the film, there is a scene that looks like Plummer has been digitally inserted into it while standing in front of Saudi Arabian dignitaries discussing oil. The lighting is just slightly different on Plummer, and it makes him stand out against the backdrop.
Overall, All the Money in the World was a solid film with a captivating story. It informed the audience and made me want to go and read more about it. The film was engaging, and for the most part, acted and told very well. It earns the Not Quite Golden, Ponyboy rating.