With the worldwide phenomena of the #MeToo movement engrossing every walk of life, Hollywood was no exception to the unmasking of workplace sexual harassment claims. One unexpected casualty of the movement was Kevin Spacey, a veteran actor with a stunning resume, who faces multiple accusations of unwanted sexual advances. Consequently, director Ridley Scott felt compelled to do the unthinkable with his new film All the Money in the World. A mere six weeks before its official release, Scott recast Academy Award Winner Christopher Plummer in Spacey’s role and re-shot 22 scenes in 9 days with the committed aide of his cast and crew members. But how much of an effect would all of these 11th-hour changes have on the overall quality of the film? Truth be told, these last-minute edits are the least of the movie’s issues.
All the Money tells the unbelievable true story of oilman John Paul Getty (Plummer), the world’s richest man, who refuses to pony up a $17 million cash-ransom demanded by the kidnappers of his 16 year-old grandson Paul (Charlie Plummer, no relation) in 1973 Italy. But when Paul’s mother, Gail (Michelle Williams), pleas desperately for Getty’s assistance, he enlists the services of personal advisor and ex-CIA agent Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg) to take care of matters “as quickly and inexpensively as possible”. Pressed for time as Paul’s abductors make it clear that they aren’t afraid to kill the teen if necessary, Gail and Chase try to scheme a way to cut a deal.
There’s a more interesting story embedded somewhere within this broadly told screenplay from David Scarpa. But instead, All the Money muddles its focus and emerges as a thinly-elaborated and thrill-less bout of factual exhaustion. Widely outstretched to nearly 135 minutes of uninspiring and occasionally agonizing narrative, Michelle Williams and Christopher Plummer deliver effort-saving performances that are but twinkles of starlight in a dark and empty void of crumbling deficiencies. The film’s two most-prominent characters, Gail and Getty, become lost in a sea of meaningless subplots. The lengthy amount of attention given to the kidnappers and their prisoner, Paul, lacks the required tension needed to justify its overwhelming inclusion. Moreover, Mark Wahlberg is so noticeably miscast that it’s difficult to tell whether his designed character arc is poorly scripted, terribly acted, or a disastrous combination of both. Either way, this bitter and cold real-life story lacks a genuine purpose. It fails as a suspenseful thriller, it underwhelms as a cheaply-explored character study, and it by no means engages the viewer emotionally. You will find some brilliant examples of skilled acting and a few strong moments of direction sprinkled throughout the film, yet there’s very little else to be found inside of Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World.
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