‘All The Money In The World’ Movie Review: Gripping, Suspense-Filled Drama Based On Real Events
Some movies send a shiver down your spine or make the hair on the back of your neck stand up repeatedly, and the nerve-wracking All the Money in the World is one of those films.
‘All The Money In The World’ Film Review
Ridley Scott’s crime thriller is based on John Pearson’s 1995 book Painfully Rich: The Outrageous Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Heirs of J. Paul Getty. That novel relates the true story of the 1973 kidnapping of the late 16-year-old Paul Getty (Charlie Plummer) by Italian mobsters in Rome, and of his billionaire oil mogul grandfather J. Paul Getty’s refusal to pay the $17 million ransom the Mafia men demand.
The ruthless J. Paul Getty — whose greedy, materialistic and proud attitude with regards to negotiating is uncannily reminiscent of Donald Trump — argues that if he were to pay the ransom, all his other grandchildren would also become kidnapped until he eventually lost all his fortune due to wiring money for their release. Getty thus enlists his advisor Fletcher Chase, a former CIA operative, to bring his grandson home safely. Chase teams up with Paul’s mother — and Getty’s daughter-in-law — Gail Harris to track down the kidnappers and hopefully reach a different, less costly deal for Paul’s release.
Christopher Plummer is stunning as J.P. Getty: the 88-year-old Academy Award winner immerses himself completely into the role of the frugal tycoon who is constantly looking for the most profitable or money-saving “tax-deductible” option in any scenario.
The fact that Plummer stepped in less than two months before the film’s December 25 release date to replace Kevin Spacey alone is remarkable to say the least. Spacey was cut from the film following accusations of sexual harassment from several men against the two-time Oscar winner (who came out as gay) in October, allegations that went as far back as 1986. Scott, 80, and the cast re-shot all of the scenes with Plummer, who did not need to wear any face prosthetics as he is much closer to the age Getty was when his grandson was taken.
Perhaps the most mesmerizing star of the film, however, is Michelle Williams as Gail. Williams delivers a powerful turn as a mother who is desperate to have her son returned to her. She strikes an incredible balance between appearing focused and collected to being utterly terrified and then jumps to acting frustrated and suspicious with an ease that seems so natural.
The use of occasional flashbacks and some first-person narration from Paul — who died of an illness in 2011 at age 54 — is also a pleasant choice that helps viewers become even more immersed in the story. Though the violence is sparse, there is one scene that is so disturbing it will remain lodged in your memory long after the credits roll. The grim colors used for many of the scenes also serve as a great complement to the plot.
Even Mark Wahlberg has some great moments as the shady retired agent Chase who is initially reluctant to share certain details about himself and his profession. Chase calls J.P. Getty a “rapacious old f—” at one point, an oddly entertaining insult, after Getty insists for the n-th time that he has no “money to spare,” not even to save a loved one.
Getty also reportedly argued that paying a ransom would only cause a proliferation of kidnappings and crime in general throughout the world, although he does not explicitly say this in the film.
This gripping movie already received three Golden Globe nominations (Best Actress for Williams, Best Supporting Actor for Christopher Plummer and Best Director for Scott). Although the film ultimately lost in all these categories, it is sure to at the very least obtain nods at this year’s Oscars.
The film notes that some events were dramatized, but one thing remains certain nonetheless: All the Money in the World raises themes that remain as relevant today as they were more than 40 years ago. Among those themes: some things simply can’t be assigned a price tag, and every decision — or lack thereof — can have even more catastrophic repercussions than one may initially imagine.