Saturday, 6 January 2018

#4 ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD


Starring Michelle Williams, Christopher Plummer, Mark Wahlberg, Charlie Plummer and Romain Duris. Written by David Scarpa, based on the book Painfully Rich: The Outrageous Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Heirs of J. Paul Getty by John Pearson. Directed by Ridley Scott. Budget $50 million. Running time 133 minutes. Certificate 133 minutes.

The fictionalised account of the 1973 kidnapping of J. P. 'Paul' Getty III (Charlie Plummer), the grandson of oil tycoon J. Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer) the richest man in the world and the desperate battle by the boy's mother Gail Harris (Michelle Williams) to get her ex-father-in-law to pay the ransom of $17 million. Getty who took the concept of being a miser to staggering lengths refused to pay, claiming if he did then his other 13 grandchildren would soon be kidnapped too. Instead the tight-fighted old bastard sent his best negotiator, ex-CIA operative Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg) off to Rome to help track down his grandson with explicit instructions to resolve the situation by spending the least amount of money possible. Together Chase and Harris team up as the kidnapping becomes protracted and both sides resort to desperate measures to get their hands on the money. For the kidnappers this means selling their prisoner to the Mafia who promptly send JP's ear to the media and threatening to send more if the money isn't paid and for Getty it means blackmailing his ex-daughter in-law for custody of his grandchildren and securing the ransom money as a tax write off and loan.

This film is now more famous for who's not in it, rather than who's in it. Initially filmed with disgraced Kevin Spacey in the role of Getty, Ridley Scott at the 11th hour elected to reshot all of Spacey's scenes with Christopher Plummer instead due to allegations of Spacey's various sexual assaults on underage boys. Original rumours from the set claimed that Spacey turned in a stella performance, although all that remains of that is the brief first trailer. It's true to say that this film arrives with a lot of emotional baggage and many people will be going to see it not because of who's in it, rather who isn't. Indeed, some critics have reviewed this film not on the performances on offer but rather that one performance missing, which I think is a tad dis-ingenious.

This is a very well directed and mounted period drama that catches the details of the time, the early 1970s with great aplomb. The performances are all very strong, with Michelle Williams just clinching it, although Plummer 22 scenes are still very good. That said, you do sort of wish the film had been more about him, the sight of the greed and avarice of the man is simply breathtaking and you realise that a film about the Getty dynasty would make a fascinating 10 part Netflix series.

Ridley Scott can make this sort of film in his sleep, he seems to have two distinct styles of direction, one is his art-directed heavy style with fantastic use of special effects and art design but lacking in coherent story (Alien Covenant and Prometheus) and there's his pared down style as witnessed by this and films like Matchstick Men, American Gangster and The Counsellor. He's always seemed like a director more interested in the visual look of his films rather than the plot and so it's refreshing to see that in All The Money in the World, Scott has for the most part just let the true story unfold. It's an engrossing and gripping tale, which gets stronger the longer it progresses and offers some interesting glimpses of the banality of evil and also the corrupting evil of utter greed.

Most satisfying and worth a watch. 8/10

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