All the Money in the World
After the substantial hoopla regarding Christopher Plummer replacing Kevin Spacey as J. Paul Getty, All the Money in the World winds up being little more than a classically shaggy and generally entertaining Ridley Scott film.
Nowhere near an awards contender, the greatest mystery in dramatizing the kidnapping of 16-year-old Paul Getty (Charlie Plummer, no relation to the Oscar-winner) and his grandfather’s unwillingness to pay the steep ransom is that Spacey in heavy facial prosthetics was ever going to play such a prominent role.
Naturally age-appropriate, the elder Plummer is a terrific curmudgeon, so focused on amassing a fortune that he can’t see what’s truly important, despite late — and, frankly, sad — statements regarding the vital nature of those that carry his blood, but only when it doesn’t affect his bank account.
Sporting a slightly different outlook on life, Michelle Williams likewise excels as Paul’s mother Gail, whose honor is quickly established in flashbacks to her life with Getty’s estranged namesake son (Andrew Buchan), their meager but happy existence in San Francisco and how that family contentment is disrupted when the senior Getty offers his progeny a job in Rome.
Without any Getty money, her commitment to freeing her son and the battles with her former father-in-law to secure the necessary funds buoys All the Money in the World, as does Scott’s usual arsenal of stunning visuals, none better than a flying approach shot on a Moroccan tower.
Less beneficial, however, is the lamebrain casting of Mark Wahlberg — who, Transformers: The Last Knight aside, had been on a nice multi-year roll — as former CIA agent Fletcher Chase, whom Getty dispatches to assist Gail. Walking like a body builder, Wahlberg delivers lines like he’s auditioning for a particularly dry prescription drug commercial and is thoroughly incongruous with the setting and the film’s overall tone.
Elsewhere, the same trailer that teased a mostly unrecognizable Spacey also made it appear that Paul’s kidnapper could be Willem Dafoe, but it turns out that’s actually a grimy Romain Duris (Mood Indigo) as Cinquanta, a mercurial figure whose true intentions and humane potential despite being party to grisly actions keep Paul’s captivity from succumbing to prisoner clichés.
Though it could stand to shed a good 20 minutes, the convergence of these players keeps All the Money in the World more engaging than not, even in a fairly ludicrous ending where important characters put themselves in unbelievably serious danger.
Now, Mr. Scott, show us the original Spacey cut and no one gets hurt.
Grade: B-minus. Rated R. Now playing at AMC Classic, Biltmore Grande and Carolina Cinemark
(Photo: TriStar Pictures)