Ridley Scott made cinema history when he recast Christopher Plummer in the role of J. Paul Getty in the wake of accusations of sexual assault of a minor against Kevin Spacey. He fulfilled promise to have All the Money in the World ready for its December 22 release (now three days later on Christmas Day), and in fact had it ready to screen for press on the 15th.
J. Paul Getty (Plummer) was the wealthiest man in the world, though not a great family man. After his son lost custody of his grandchildren in the divorce from Gail Harris (Michelle Williams), Getty largely turned his back on the family. So when John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer) got kidnapped, Getty I refused to pay the ransom.
The Getty scenes are dynamic. Scott did not do a half assed job. He’s interacting with the lead actors, on the sets. He didn’t just work on a green screen. So basically, it’s more seamless than the Justice League reshoots.
The role is significant too. It’s not like Marty McFly in Back to the Future, but he’s involved with the plot consistently throughout the film. Some scenes are solitary but it’s not like they only had to reshoot a cameo.
Aside from the groundbreaking statement it makes about the reasonable efforts to which filmmakers can go to take a zero tolerance policy on abusers, All the Money in the World is still an average historical docudrama. The performances are good but it doesn’t go much beyond saying this is something that happened.
The details of the actual kidnapping are crazy enough to keep the story interesting. Gail uncovers more Getty lies late in the crisis. The extent that this family plays games will make your uncomfortable Christmas dinner seem functional by comparison. They are particularly vicious to the mother of his grandchildren.
Scott captures the volatile situation in which John Paul III finds himself. The tactics of a standoff where neither side can back down are interesting. Mark Wahlberg plays Fletcher Chase, the negotiator under Getty’s employ.
The entire movie has a hazy blue tint which makes All the Money in the World look like every other movie in the last decade. Are historians going to think the ‘00s and 20teens were all blue, like we imagine the old west was all sepia?
And he shows the graphic detail of the ear scene that Reservoir Dogs left implied. Not sure what the point of that was other than shock value.
I’m not sure All the Money in the World has anything revelatory to say about a man like Getty. He believes everyone is running an angle the way he always is. That is how schemers think. They can’t comprehend that there are people who want nothing from them except to be left alone.
But look, the Getty story is interesting and you could do worse than to see Christopher Plummer and Michelle Williams act it out. If someone makes another Getty movie it could be the Volcano of Getty movies but this is still a solid Dante’s Peak.
All the Money in the World opens December 25.
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