REVIEW: All the Money in the World
Directed by Ridley Scott
By Christopher Spencer
Directed by Ridley Scott, All the Money in the World stars Michelle Williams, Mark Wahlberg, and Christopher Plummer. Telling the true story of the kidnapping of Paul Getty III in 1973, All the Money in the World follows Abigail Getty (Williams) as she tries to negotiate the release of her son, while facing constant opposition from Getty patriarch J. Paul Getty (Plummer), the richest man in the world.
Aside from the solid detour of The Martian, Ridley Scott hasn’t made a good non-space movie since Black Hawk Down in 2001. Luckily that streak is broken with All the Money in the World; a dark and atmospheric drama-thriller with fair comments about what money really does to people.
The movie is well-known at the moment because of the Kevin Spacey controversy, so let’s swerve hard into there: Spacey was J. Paul Getty, cut from the movie due to the sexual harassment allegation, and replaced with Plummer. Thanks to the intensity and viciousness that Plummer brings to this role, I cannot and never want to imagine what Spacey would have done under all that horrible makeup. Plummer gives Getty the honest fire and black heart the character deserves, and seamlessly fits in the movie (though one CG replacement shot is pretty bad).
Michelle Williams front and centre and delivers a real portrayal of a mother ferociously determined to ensure her son’s safety. At first cold and frightened, she learns to use the Getty name to get the job done, but still has a conscience unlike J. Paul. Williams is all in for this role, and look for her final scene to grant just a glimpse to her brilliance.
Unfortunately, Mark Wahlberg is miscast. He’s shown to work well in dramas before (e.g. The Departed), and here he gets through the scenes well-enough and isn’t a total distraction (scenes shared with Plummer are solid). But Wahlberg doesn’t look like the character of a shady CIA man, more like an ex-Marine bodyguard to the Gettys, so it’s just odd and unnecessary
Ridley Scott is still as ambitious as he ever was, choosing to capture this hostage thriller both from the perspective of Getty’s family and with fair attention to the kidnappers and how their decisions influence story.
Scott uses long-time cinematographer Dariusz Wolski to wonderful effect, creating certain visual moods in important scenes like a painter using the finest brushes. There’s an effective script that breaks the bank for mentions of “money”, clean editing from Claire Simpson, and a standout score from Daniel Pemberton, so it’s acclaim all around.
All the Money in the World does falter in excitement for the most part. The movie’s a dry affair, with dabbles in violence (one scene alone feels close to Alien) and more complex themes, but not deep enough dives. It strives for an epic flavour, and mostly succeeds thanks to Plummer and Williams’ performances and Scott’s experienced filmmaking. All the Money in the World isn’t exceptional, but gets the job done and doesn’t outstay its welcome.