(Featured image credit: vice.com)
All The Money In The World was sadly overshadowed by the director Ridley Scott’s decision to re-shoot a large portion of the film, replacing the disgraced Kevin Spacey with 88-year old Christopher Plummer, who filmed all his scenes in just eight days. Unfortunately, that’s why the film was marketed as “the most talked about movie of the year” and why people will remember All The Money In The World for years to come. But aside from that, this was a brilliant film, and exceeded my expectations, after hearing of its fairly average critical consensus before watching it.
The film is based on the real-life story of the 1973 kidnapping of John Paul Getty III (referred to as “Paul” in this film), the grandson of the richest man in the world at the time, John Paul Getty. When Getty refuses to pay the $17 million ransom for his grandson’s return, he is asked by a reporter, “if not $17 million, how much would you pay?” Getty’s response? “Nothing.”
The story is incredibly interesting and executed very well. The narrative is told well enough to appeal to those who are unfamiliar with the true-story. Many true-story films often assume a certain level of prior-knowledge to viewing (Bronson, for example) but All The Money In The World plays out well as its own intense thriller with shocking moments that, mostly, actually happened.
The film feels slightly slow to start with, as we are introduced to the Getty family through flashbacks, but the pace does start to speed up. I would have preferred the story to be in a more linear order so the audience would have a reason to sympathise with Paul other than simply because he has been kidnapped, although we do start to learn more about him as the story progresses and discover how he and his mother (played by Michelle Williams) have been treated. All The Money In The World does a fantastic job of building and maintaining tension throughout, as we wait to see what decisions the protagonists will make.
Christopher Plummer puts in a fantastic performance as Getty, playing a despising character more concerned about his own financial position than his grandson’s safe return. Getty, throughout the film, claims that he “doesn’t have the money” to pay the ransom, angering Gail. Yet, he seems almost completely different from Spacey’s version of Getty in the trailers.
I am convinced that Michelle Williams was snubbed of at least an Oscar nomination for her performance as Gail Harris, the stepdaughter of Getty and mother of Paul. She is an incredibly inspiring character who goes to extraordinary lengths to ensure her son is safe. Even though Gail relies on Getty to pay the ransom, she is the face of the case and all the hard work is down to her. I think Williams is one of the most underrated actresses in Hollywood, and with this and her recent powerhouse performance in Manchester By-The-Sea, her best years could still be yet to come.
All The Money In The World was a much better film than I expected, with an overlooked performance by Michelle Williams and a thrilling tone that will leave you in continuous suspense. The film tackles the issue of greed well, and does not shy away from the fact Getty was unsympathetic to his own grandson and stepdaughter. However, I hope this film will be remembered for more than Christopher Plummer’s re-shoot.