Hot Take: The nifty trick of making Kevin Spacey disappear and replacing him with Christopher Plummer is more interesting than this facts heavy thriller from Ridley Scott. Very good but not great with more drama off-screen than on.
Sometimes the sum is greater than the parts but occasionally, the reverse is true. That’s what we get in All the Money in the World, the latest film from Ridley Scott which is based on the true events surrounding the kidnapping of the grandson of J. Paul Getty. While the movie is solid (as is almost anything helmed by Scott), the performances from Christopher Plummer and Michelle Williams stand out well above the quality of the film. Plummer’s excellent performance is especially fascinating considering he was added to the film after a sexual assault scandal rocked former co-star Kevin Spacey. The cast and crew got back together to re-shoot Spacey out of the film and replace him with Plummer in the role of J. Paul Getty. Re-shoots took 10 days at the end of November and the film premiered just 19 days later. As for Williams’ role, there’s no fascinating story behind it, just another excellent performance that could earn her another Oscar nomination.
If you don’t know the story of the kidnapping of Paul Getty, the 16-year-old grandson of oil tycoon J. Paul Getty, the richest man in the history of the world at the time of the kidnapping, you’ll likely be more engaged in the film. The side story of the impressively speedy removal of Spacey is also intriguing as Plummer as the patriarch of the Getty family has a more significant role than expected which means it wasn’t as simple as shooting a scene or two to replace Spacey in the wake of the controversy surrounding sexual assault allegations. Scott’s mastercraftsmanship is evident throughout the work but it has enough dead spots to keep it from being anything more than a good film.
One of those dead spots happens to be Mark Wahlberg as former CIA operative and Getty advisor and negotiator Fletcher Chase. As usual with Wahlberg, he plays the same character he usually does with the only variable being whether or not he has that Boston accent. Here he does not but it doesn’t stop him from playing his usual role. While it may be somewhat of a generalization, it seems as if Wahlberg plays the same part in every film or at least plays his part the same exact way. In his third role of 2017, Wahlberg being Wahlberg stands out more than normal thanks to the incredible cast around him and how mediocre his performance appears next to the talent of Plummer and Williams. It’s not as noticeable in throwaway roles like yet another Transformers sequel or Daddy’s Home 2 but in All the Money in the World, it stands out like a sore thumb.
While it’s not the strongest recommendation, All the Money in the World is definitely worth a look. Both Williams and Plummer deliver such strong performances that alone is enough to see the film. Occasionally meandering and obviously made for Oscar, the film survives its inefficiencies and lives on the expertise of Scott to craft an interesting tale and has the impressive side show of an unnoticeable last minute re-casting that is mind blowing when considering the film already had a trailer with Spacey in the Getty role. It’s not quite good enough for Oscar but it makes a valiant effort and if you can’t catch it in theaters, at least give it a watch when it makes it to the home video market.
Scott, Plummer and Williams show just how talented they are and the Getty kidnapping has plenty of fascinating elements even if the tale as told here occasionally gets bogged down before taking off in the third act.
Marky Mark has a rather large role and his inability to be more than just Mark Wahlberg makes it hard to care about his character and is a drag and could even be a distraction depending on your level of tolerance for Wahlberg’s acting.