The fact that All the Money in the World was released at all is impressive. When news first broke about the alleged sexual misconduct of Kevin Spacey – originally cast to play billionaire J. Paul Getty – director Ridley Scott set himself a seemingly impossible task: replacing the actor entirely, bringing in Christopher Plummer at the last minute, and reshooting his scenes in the space of a month.
The results are miraculous. Thanks to Scott’s infamous work ethic and the skillful editing of Claire Simpson, the scars are nearly invisible. Perhaps more gratifyingly, Plummer’s recent Golden Globe nomination feels genuinely earned rather than simply being a middle finger to Spacey. The actor brings a twinkle of Captain von Trapp to his version of Getty; a penny-pinching, art-hoarding recluse who believes himself descended from Roman emperors.
Disappointingly, Plummer’s performance is so electrifying that the rest of the film can’t compete. One wishes Scott had done a little more cutting. After the nerve-wracking opening act, in which Getty’s grandson is kidnapped and the old bastard digs in his heels and refuses to pay, the tension quickly deflates. Much of this is down to the blandness of Charlie Plummer (no relation) as the younger Getty; Romain Duris, however, does fine work as a kidnapper who develops a soft spot for his hostage. Michelle Williams is compelling as the mother trying to fight Getty Sr.’s empire and save her son, but Mark Wahlberg looks like he got lost and wandered off the set of Transformers in a slightly too-small suit.
Were it not for all the attention brought by the last-minute alterations, All the Money in the World would simply be a minor Ridley Scott work, like Prometheus or The Counselor before it. But its existence is also testament to his undeniable skill as a filmmaker.
CAST: Michelle Williams, Mark Wahlberg, Christopher Plummer, Charlie Plummer, Romain Duris
DIRECTOR: Ridley Scott
WRITER: David Scarpa
SYNOPSIS: The story of the kidnapping of 16-year-old John Paul Getty III and the desperate attempt by his devoted mother to convince his billionaire grandfather J. Paul Getty to pay the ransom.