Starring: Michelle Williams, Mark Wahlberg, Christopher Plummer
Director: Ridley Scott
Running Time: 132 mins
All The Money In The World is an American film about the true story of the kidnapping of young John Paul Getty III in Italy, and the efforts of his mother to convince the older J.P. Getty to pay the ransom using his enormous wealth.
I liked this film a lot. With the added bonus of being a true story, All The Money In The World is a pretty exciting and engrossing watch from start to finish. Stylishly directed by Ridley Scott throughout, and complete with strong performances that bring the story to life, it’s a strong film throughout, even if it doesn’t quite reach that heart-stoppingly thrilling level.
Above all, what I enjoyed most about this film was the fact that it allowed itself to be as much of a thriller as a historical drama. It’s a genre blend that can often be hard to balance, with history often making a thriller drier, and the thriller making the history a little cheaper, but All The Money In The World gets that balance absolutely spot on.
The way the film sets up the Getty family is brilliant, emphasising how their wealth led into the kidnapping situation, and further enforcing the incredibly brutal and and almost unfeeling desite to remain so rich from J.P. Getty, a shocking insight that ultimately makes him just as much of a villain in the film than the kidnappers themselves, thereby using historical fact to add another layer to the story and make it more than a simple thriller.
What’s more is that Ridley Scott does a great job at establishing the setting and time period. Apart from the obvious tricks like a great 70s soundtrack, hip costume design and more, he directs the film in such a stylish and sleek manner, managing to overcome the patchy nature of many of the film’s reshoots to turn this into just a competent and slick a thriller as it would have always been.
Those reshoots, the ones that replaced Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer in the role of J.P. Getty, are some of the most infamous and extensive you could ever think of. Having to completely erase an entire character and then fill him in again is a huge undertaking, but I have to say that for the most part, the film does a great job of hiding it, and apart from one or two slightly off scenes where a full reshoot was clearly impossible, you wouldn’t know that Plummer wasn’t in the role from the beginning if you hadn’t heard the story.
And that takes us to the performances, which are great throughout. Christopher Plummer’s turn as J.P. Getty is his meatiest in years, and he combines the man’s ruthless business nouse with a fascinating hidden element of emotion relating to his family, making him a brilliant enigma throughout that’s fascinating to watch.
Alongside Plummer is Michelle Williams, who although starting off as little more than a typical grieving mother, manages to turn her role around into a far stronger and more exciting one, with her strong stance in the middle of all these men trying to pull various strings around the kidnapping case adding yet another level of fascinating drama.
Mark Wahlberg is also strong in a supporting role as one of the lead investigators of the case, and Charlie Plummer too is a lot more than just a rag doll as the young man who is kidnapped, making him a character that you do actually care about a lot more than what I expected, a plot device for the tensions higher up between Christopher Plummer and Michelle Williams’ characters.
As you can see, the majority of this film is a very competent and consistently riveting one, however the one thing that disappointed me a little about it was the fact that it just couldn’t hit that highest level of thrills and excitement. It’s an undoubtedly exciting watch, but it’s never quite as heart-stopping as it aims to be, which means that some of the bigger climaxes feel a little underwhelming at times.
Overall, however, I really liked All The Money In The World. Featuring stylish directing and strong performances, as well as a competent and engrossing story throughout, it’s a great historical drama thriller, although it’s not quite on the level of the greatest thrill-rides of all time, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.6.