Although there is no way I could possibly relate with a bajillionaire like J. Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer), my curiosity almost forces me to see how a man of his stature reacts to adversity. But when it comes to All the Money in the World, the oil tycoon seemingly never had to handle stress. Yes, he had a grandson, John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer, no relation) who was kidnapped in Italy back in 1973. Naturally, his captors were really after J. Paul Getty, but Getty III suffered, not the man with all the wealth. So not only do the rich lead lives much better than normal people, the wealthy even suffer better than the rest of us. Then why, knowing this, am I even watching this twisted (based on true events) tale of greed during the Christmas holiday? It’s because Christopher Plummer is amazing.

In all reality, most filmgoers want to see rich people on screen. The wealthy have more interesting lives because their options are endless due to their massive bank accounts. Besides, movies are supposed to be an escape from reality, not a reminder of it. In lieu of that, it amuses (and disgusts) me seeing just how deplorable people are when they feel the rules don’t apply to them. J. Paul Getty was one of those people, and with some early narration director Ridley Scott informs audiences rich people are wired differently. That’s why when Getty III was held ransom for $17 million his “loving” grandfather refused to pay, hanging Getty III and his mom Gail (Michelle Williams) out to dry (Getty, though, was “kind” enough to task one of his top advisors, Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg), to help Gail with handling the kidnapping). Getty had inexcusable reasons for not paying up, and those reasons separate someone like him from people like us. If one of my family members was kidnapped, I’d do anything I could, even steal, in order to pay the ransom. Getty, being the shred businessman, saw it as an opportunity to negotiate. That’s the type of man we’re dealing with – J. Paul Getty may have been "the richest man in the history of the world" but he was also a real-life Scrooge with not one conscionable feeling in his body.

That is the beauty of All the Money in the World. It’s a film that provides just enough drama to make a kidnapping compelling, yet nearly gets away with treating said crime like a business transaction. Coincidentally, it provides opportunity to witness an unforgettable performance from Christopher Plummer. He is the main reason why Money works, and what’s more impressive is that Plummer replaced the shamed Kevin Spacey a few short weeks ago and shot all of his scenes in just over a week's time. We’ll never get to see Spacey’s performance but it doesn’t matter when Plummer is this good. Recently nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Golden Globe, there’s a good chance he’ll win, with an Oscar win likely to follow in March.

It’s also worth mentioning the strong performances from Michelle Williams and Charlie Plummer. Gail, who’s divorced from the deadbeat John Paul Getty Jr. (Andrew Buchan), is our advocate and sees things from a more human perspective. Wealth is the least of her priorities – Gail gave up all alimony in her divorce in exchange for full custody of her children. Williams has always been impressive, and Gail’s actions as a mother are commendable, honest and acceptable, especially since her former father-in-law is more of a crook than her son’s kidnappers. She’s restrained at the right time but still allows herself to be vulnerable. That balance has resulted in a Golden Globe nomination for her, too.

Although he wasn’t nominated, Charlie Plummer is memorable. Getty III endured terrible treatment and pain while held hostage, and Plummer provided enough dread and fear to convince audiences of his peril. This gives enough doubt and mystery to viewers old enough to remember what happened, while younger audiences are able to share in his turmoil.

Based on the non-fiction book by John Pearson, and adapted for the screen by David Scarpa, All the Money in the World is the result of some fine direction from Ridley Scott (the Hollywood Foreign Press nominated him for Best Director, meaning Money has 3 Golden Globe nods this year). Having just turned 80, he’s tireless – in 2017 alone he’s responsible for this and Alien: Covenant. Scott also found time to executive produce Blade Runner 2049.

Money was produced quickly as principal photography began in late May 2017 and the Christopher Plummer reshoots were conducted as late as November. The result is a feature that felt surprisingly complete. It was a little long (132-minute running time) as some scenes could’ve been cut out, but seeing too much footage is more reassuring than incomplete or uneven scenes.

All the Money in the World is a worth a look thanks to the performances. The story is compelling enough but lacks true depth and emotion – those qualities were only manufactured by its three aforementioned cast members. Sadly, at no time did I feel Getty III would die, and thus eliminated much of the drama. Also, many of the film tropes employed are cliché and overused, but most won’t notice. But without a doubt, Christopher Plummer is better than anything in Money.

At the least one can come away knowing you don’t have to be rich to be a self-centered jerk. All the money in the world doesn’t hinder that, it enables it.

3.5 stars out of 5


Did you enjoy this article? If so, we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. It would be great if you subscribed to our RSS feed or signed up for email updates to get more goodness. There’s lots more where this came from!

blog comments powered by Disqus