All The Money In The World – 2017

Director Ridley Scott
Screenplay David Scarpa based on the novel Painfully Rich: The Outrageous Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Heirs of J. Paul Getty by John Pearson
Starring Michelle Williams, Christopher Plummer, Mark Wahlberg, Romain Duris, Timothy Hutton, Charlie Plummer, Andrew Buchan, Marco Leonardi

I love my grandson, Chace

Almost 30 minutes into the film based on the abduction of the grandson of J. Paul Getty (Spacey, then Christopher Plummer), we discover the conceit of the advertising campaign. Everyone saw the famous footage of Getty stating his son was not going to be ransomed with his money. Interspersed, we get an understanding that one of his “men” named Chase (Wahlberg) is on the case working towards his rescue. In the midst of the action, the younger Getty’s mother Gail (Williams) moves from scene to scene in random notes of distress.

We know Getty the elder can’t be a total prick. He’s, of course a difficult negotiator, and infamously frugal. Ultimately, he is no fool. How many more people would have seen the film knowing the full story? Hard to say.

I have no money to spare.

Much of this film is about searching, negotiation and arguing about the value of an errant child. The investigation finds that the younger Getty had joked with some of his friends about arranging his kidnapping. We don’t see anything of him doing so in the film, but Chace discoveres the information  and passes it on to his employer. This changes Sr.’s heart and he shuts his employee down.

Of course Chace keeps going.

The story is told with many of the Ridley Scott dramatic touches. There is a gritty, sweaty nature to the captors, but most of them look handsomely Italian. The feeling that everyone in the country is against the grandson feels less paranoid than it does staged. The heroes have to battle corporate bullies, which are conveniently epitomized by an old, white man. It’s got a cool blue sepia tone to match the coldness of his powerful supporting actor. Plummer is in good form, when Scott doesn’t have him chasing newspapers in the wind.

When a man gets wealthy, he has to deal with the problems of freedom. All the choices he could possibly want. An abyss opens up. Well, I watched that abyss. I watched it ruin men, marriages, but most of all, it ruins the children.

There is a complexity to Plummer’s performance that is not matched by either Wahlberg or Williams. There is a solid reason for this, of course. Their are only so many tones to desperate and indignant one can attain.

Wahlberg gets to tell off his boss. He even throws the word “rapacious” in front of an expletive. Williams shoulders the role with dignity, and pushes through the monotonous middle section.

For a while Charlie Plummer is intriguing as III. We get to see him move from disbelief into terror. Then we hear about his despair. Why he doesn’t show the grandson in his true deteriorated state is unclear. One thing is for sure, he is in no condition to run.

The last act is one of those endings that ties more neatly than it should. Right down to Chace telling Gail “Guys like me don’t get rich.”

In the end, this will be a film more remembered for the supporting actor that was replaced than for anything else…even possibly the real events on which it is inspired.

(*** out of *****)

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