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All the Money in the World Movie Review

All the Money in the World (2017) movie poster All the Money in the World

Theatrical Release: December 25, 2017 / Running Time: 132 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Ridley Scott / Writers: David Scarpa (screenplay), John Pearson (book)

Cast: Michelle Williams (Charity Barnum), Christopher Plummer (J. Paul Getty), Mark Wahlberg (Fletcher Chase), Roman Duris (Cinquanta), Timothy Hutton (Oswald Hinge), Charlie Plummer (John Paul Getty III), Charlie Shotwell (John Paul Getty III - age 7), Andrew Buchan (John Paul Getty II), Marco Leonardi (Mammoliti), Giuseppe Bonifati (Giovanni Iacovoni), Nicholas Vaporidis (Il Tamia "Chipmunk")

Three Christmases ago, a movie became an event when unknown
parties hacked Sony's computer system, allegedly at the behest of North Korea to protest and stop the theatrical release of the Seth Rogen comedy The Interview. This Christmas, the same studio has another yuletide release that became not just entertainment but news. The film is All the Money in the World and what was at best probably going to be a fringe player in Hollywood's award season has instead transformed into the poster child for the season of reckoning that has struck Tinseltown in the wake of bombshell reports revealing in some cases decades of sexual harrasment, assault, and misconduct performed by powerful figures in the industry.

Studio chief Harvey Weinstein was the first and biggest to fall and the accusations against him are the most damning. But after two reports exposed his sleazy alleged practices, others have similarly been exposed and found themselves quickly cast out of the business. One of the most famous is two-time Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey, who was shaping up to be the focus of All the Money's awards campaign in the Best Supporting Actor category. Instead, after Anthony Rapp recalled some lecherous behavior from the actor he knew from the Broadway scene at a Spacey-hosted party in the 1980s and following an ill-conceived hybrid apology-coming out statement and further unsavory allegations, Spacey is now someone no one in Hollywood wants anything to do with. Director Ridley Scott, a forty-year veteran as productive and respected as just about any filmmaker working today, decided to do the unthinkable: recast Spacey's second-billed role with Scott's first choice, Christopher Plummer.

Somehow, some way, Scott was able to conduct one week of reshoots, re-edit the film, and still finish in time for its intended awards-qualifying Christmas opening. That has become the lede of this movie, at least among those in the industry who are aware of the drastic, unprecedented, costly measures taken. It is certainly on your mind even before Plummer's name comes up second in the opening credits. How did Sir Ridley pull this off? Well, apart from a couple of shots early in the film marred by some glaring limitations of digital head replacement, without a hitch. The movie is seamless and only in rare occasions does it feel like Plummer was shot separately from the others who are in scenes with him.

Swiftly recast and reshot, Christopher Plummer now plays oil tycoon J. Paul Getty alongside Mark Wahlberg in Ridley Scott's "All the Money in the World."

And with that out of the way, perhaps it's fair to set aside the whirlwind reshoots and reedits to consider and judge All the Money like any other film.

The film opens in Rome 1973, in which Paul Getty (Charlie Plummer, unrelated to his onscreen grandpa), a handsome teenaged boy with long blonde locks, gets kidnapped by masked local criminals. Paul is the grandson of J. Paul Getty (Plummer), the richest man in the history of the world. From here, it jumps back to 1964 to show us the home in which young Paul grew up, the eldest child of Gail Getty (Michelle Williams), whose marriage to J. Paul Getty II (Andrew Buchan) has given her no taste of the Getty empire's wealth. Within a few years, Gail's husband is dabbling in drugs and affairs in Marrakesh, prompting a divorce in which Gail asks for no money but full custody of their three children.

The bulk of the movie details Paul's kidnapping by Italian criminals who demand a $17 million ransom. That sum is nothing to old, rich Getty and yet he doesn't for a second consider paying it. The old billionaire seems to have an unusually small heart and very little interest in using his money for anything but making more money.

That leaves us with a pretty thin narrative to spend what feels like much longer than two hours following. Fundless Gail tries to negotiate with her son's captors, while having to submit to the wisdom of Italian authorities and of Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg), the former spy that old Getty hires to handle the situation.

Michelle Williams gets top billing as Gail Getty, whose son is kidnapped in Rome in 1973.

Opening voiceover by young Paul suggests this true incident will really make sense in context and that we'll understand what it was like to grow up Getty, but it never does and we never do.
Instead, we just spend a lot of time watching Paul being treated poorly by his captors and Gail, her former father-in-law, and the fuzzily-defined Chase scrambling to do what is necessary to get Paul back, short of paying any ransom whatsoever.

All the Money is well made, which you expect from the man who helmed such works as Alien, Blade Runner, and American Gangster. But it's also extremely dark, cold, and long. When I say dark, I mean both in tone and literally. The visuals are so dark you often need a moment to make out characters' faces amidst the darkness. The steely cold scenery matches the tone. There is very little humanity to this tale and little to embrace. That design leaves a true story of intrigue handled by an accomplished director and talented performers far less enjoyable than you want it to be. There are moments and aspects to cherish, but they're few and far between in a film that makes us spend time with nasty criminals, heartless misanthropes, and unsympathetic victims.

The hoopla over the eleventh hour recasting will make those who might not have cared take notice of the film. But as impressive as that feat is, let alone to have been achieved by a director who just turned 80 and an actor closing in on 90, it cannot elevate All the Money to the heights of its direct competition, the season's greatest works.

Related Reviews:
Now in Theaters: The Post The Disaster Artist Star Wars: The Last Jedi Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
Michelle Williams: The Greatest Showman Manchester by the Sea Wonderstruck My Week with Marilyn Oz the Great and Powerful
Christopher Plummer: The Man Who Invented Christmas Barrymore Up Elsa & Fred The Insider The Last Station
Mark Wahlberg: Patriots Day Deepwater Horizon The Gambler The Fighter
Directed by Ridley Scott: The Martian The Counselor Body of Lies
The Interview Ransom

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Reviewed December 20, 2017.



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