Review: All the Money in the World

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Directed by: Ridley Scott

Written by: David Scarpa

Starring: Michelle Williams, Christopher Plumer, Mark Wahlberg, Romain Duris

Rating: [4/5]

Being the richest person in the world puts one in the place of having wealth beyond the imagination and having to make decisions that others cannot fathom. It shows that everything revolves around money, and when a ransom can ask for plenty of funds, it can truly make them seem heartless as displayed in this quick-paced and entertaining film. Through its great acting and larger than life circumstance, All the Money in the World shows the balance of humanity and money in a way the blurs when family gets involved. 

After being kidnapped in Rome, John Paul Getty III (Charlie Shotwell) awaits the efforts of his mother, Gail Harris (Michelle Williams) and others to get him back. To get him back to safety a large ransom has been placed, which Gail needs to ask from her child’s grandfather, the richest man in the world, J. Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer).

The composition and execution of the film make for an entertaining watch, but this film gained much more notoriety for the circumstances around it. The controversy came from Kevin Spacey originally being cast as J. Paul Getty, even appearing in the first trailers released. Then the reports and accusations of his alleged sexual misconduct came to the forefront and the filmmakers were left in a spot to make a decision of going forward with Spacey or trying something else. They decided to go with the latter. They took Spacey completely out of the film and replaced him with Christopher Plummer and I am so glad they did. Plummer provided such a vicious performance as Getty through his dapper demeanor. 

The situation called upon Getty revolved around his grandson being kidnapped and a ransom being demanded for his return. Seeing as he had enough riches to pay off the money being asked, he stood on a principle of not giving a cent because it would not stop others from continuing to capture his family members in order to get some money. It feels like a harsh stance especially when Gail serves as the audience entry point into Getty’s riches. She married into the family and gave up the fortune when she divorced Getty’s son in order to keep custody of her own son. The kidnapers believe that Gail has the money, but she truly does not and must play the game of trying to convince Getty to give the money for the safe return of his grandson. It becomes a great head-to-head battle by both Michelle Williams and Christopher Plummer. They match up intellectually as actors and really serve as the highlight of the entire film. 

Gail holds the heart of the film, as she tries her best to get her son back while trying to convince one of the world’s most stubborn men to do the right thing. Williams expectedly delivers another fantastic performance as she shows the vulnerability and strength that comes with being a mother in that terrible situation. The character of Gail left the opportunity to stay within the family riches because she wanted to do the best she could for her son. Now, with everything in jeopardy, she must try to handle all of the pressure on her soldiers in a world she has no interest in navigating. 

This marks as an interesting feat by director, Ridley Scott. He has such an interesting filmography of doing incredible science-fiction work to some fairly terrible dramas. All the Money in the World falls on the stronger side, as he shows the scale where he can make even the simplest stories something quite grand. The settings happen in different places of the world and he uses the different sets to show just how international Getty’s dealings reach. The richest man has connections all over the world but the best use of spacing came in his home. The very home where Getty and Gail have their back and forth, the rooms feel cold and the space is so large. It feels too large for one person to enjoy to themselves and that allows Scott to show more than he tells with the characters. For as much money as the man has accrued in his life, he still lives in this large estate with family that does not see him. It makes the sequences of him deciding whether or not to save his grandson all the more interesting. John Paul Getty III represents the continuation of his line, as his own son cannot get over his own troubles.

Overall, this film delivers a compelling story and does it well through the works of some great artists. The story zips on by and shows the different angles and concerns of every character. It shows the sticky situation they have found themselves in and what it will take to come to a resolution. It shows that with immeasurable wealth, comes a mindset that many others cannot relate to and Ridley Scott successfully takes us into that world to see all of the warts that come with the gold.

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