In All The Money in the World, Christopher Plummer fills the space that Kevin Spacey left once he was dismissed after his abuse cases had and marred his reputation. Originally, Plummer was the first choice for the role of J.P. Getty in Ridley Scott’s as the casting choice pulls a 360-turn and returns Plummer to suiting place within the film.
Shot on crisp 35mm film, the quality is unimaginably clear as opening scenes of 1973 Rome engulf the screen, shifting from black and white, to sepia, to color picture. Paolo Getty III is taken forcefully by those who had kidnapped him and the movie meets its conflict in the first act. It’s stylistically unusual to hear a voiceover narration from Charlie Plummer during the first ten minutes of the film, though fluent Italian exchanges create an atmosphere that’s full of authenticity.
The overview of Getty’s rise to power is displayed as cutscenes flash-back to Saudi deserts where a young J.P. Getty bargains for the land enriched with oil below. Cutscenes appear frequently and disjointedly as they act supplementarily to fill background information and other implied holes that would otherwise leave gaps in the plot.
J.P. Getty Jr. and Sr. have a strained relationship that is aimed to be mended as J.P. Getty Jr. reconnects with his father. Getty Sr. replies and asks his son to move his family to Rome where he’s given a job through Getty’s oil empire. Scenes cut back to 1964 as a young Getty family is to formally meet the wildly wealthy Getty as he flaunts status as the wealthiest man in the world, at the time.
Plummer, for the first half of the film, is delightful as Getty and has a keen sense for the character as he inserts his own humor to lighten the overall point in the film and to uplift the tone. He grows close with a youthful Paolo (Charlie Plummer) and connects with him as together they roam the picturesque city of Rome.
There are specific parts of the film where the score is especially strong, or traditional orchestra score is substituted for classic rock. Only a few period pieces are inserted, and it’s disappointing that there was a lack of such.
All The Money In The World becomes darker as Getty Jr. spirals into his drug and alcohol abusing lifestyle, in which the audience loses touch with a potential father figure. Michelle Williams steps up and is incredibly powerful as Gail Getty, the unwavering and relentless mother who refuses to quit bargaining for her son. She teams up with Mark Wahlberg, Chase, as they are determined to retrieve the blatantly troubled and unlikable Paolo. This may be Charlie Plummer’s lowest and most underperformed role in his career as he exhibits teenage behavior as dryly as possible.
When Getty refuses to pay the captors’ ransom of $17,000,000, uproar strikes and the press hounds quickly as the months’ time passes. There is no time for rest, or time to breathe, though Getty is in no hurry to see his grandson return. It’s said that Getty has fourteen other grandchildren, though none of them are seen or met throughout the duration of the film.
All The Money In The World is mostly gripping with intensity as Williams is strong, unwavering, and refuses to break in the face of fear. At times, the film gives off the feeling that it could pose as a Wahlberg piece as he grows more and more prominent as the former C.I.A. agent.
The dialogue is sharp, curt and cutting between each exchange, whether it be in English or Italian. The relationship between Paolo and his guard is strengthened and there are some human aspects as he acts as a moral compass and a supporting force. Perhaps it could be a spin on the classic case of Stockholm Syndrome. It leads to the question of if there was really such a merciful individual, even if he is a likable character that aids the hostage’s escape.
This film isn’t for the faint of heart as Scott demands a detailed shot of an ear amputation as negotiators send the dismantled cartilage to Chase and Getty. Graphic struggle and amputation are shown and refuse to be censored. Profuse blood and unsettling images are shown to a great extent. The scene alone is hard to watch and extremely disturbing.
Scott drags on the second half of his film; fictional events are written in for the sake of drama. The plot twists and creates a longer running time as it’s almost scrambled to beg for the audience’s attention after Paolo’s escape. Deceitful lies and family quarrels grow coarser as Getty is persuaded to pay ransom after an abundance of papers forces him to turn to the consequences. He agrees, but at his own risky cost and conditions.
The film concludes as multiple conflicts (the hidden truth, the troubled son, the broken family) overlap as All The Money In The World dwindles to its end. With a conclusion in hand, the film closes on a somewhat-calm note amid the panic and turmoil that has struck Italy. It’s hard to determine whether this will reward Scott with a Golden Globe as Best Director. Though he tries his hand at a novel adaptation, maybe he should stick to Alien.
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