HomeMoviesAll the Money in the World: A Return to Form for Ridley

All the Money in the World: A Return to Form for Ridley

All the Money in the World Plot Summary:

Based on the true story of the kidnapping of wealthy oil tycoon J. Paul Getty’s (Christopher Plummer) grandson (Charlie Plummer) in 1973. Refusing to pay the exorbitant ransom money, Getty sends his top negotiator and former CIA agent (Mark Wahlberg) to track down his grandson, while his mother (Michelle Williams) pleads with Getty to pay the ransom.

When I reviewed Alien: Covenant back in the summer, I made the assertion that director Ridley Scott was lazy with certain sequences in the film. Maybe it’s because he was focused on All the Money in the World. We are all better for it. While many will say The Martian, this is Ridley Scott’s best movie since Matchstick Men in 2003.  I’m not saying this is a masterpiece, but it was so refreshing to see Ridley Scott move away from the overly convoluted disaster messes that were Prometheus, The Counselor and Exodus: Gods and Kings. Just thinking about those films gives me a migraine.  With All the Money in the World, Scott delivers a simple, but tense and entertaining kidnapping plot with an actual focus on character.

Much has been made about Christopher Plummer replacing Kevin Spacey in the role of J. Paul Getty. Plummer reshot these scenes just a month prior to the film’s release. To make a long story short, Plummer is outstanding. He could very well win an Oscar for this. What makes Getty so fascinating is he very much serves as a plot device and isn’t involved in a lot of the main conflicts. Having said that, he gets the most character work and is the real heart of the movie. And to be clear, I mean heart of the movie from a story perspective, because holy hell, does this man have a heart of ice.

J. Paul Getty is a man obsessed with money and things. When his grandson (John Paul Getty III) is kidnapped and a $17 Million random is demanded, the first thing on his mind isn’t his grandson, but of how everyone wants a piece of his wealth like leeches. He protects his wealth as if he were paranoid.  He even gives a speech about why he respects inanimate objects more than people because they are what they appear to be. Plummer takes these moments from the script and runs with them, giving us a deep understanding of who this guy is. He almost comes off as a real life Monty Burns.

What makes this character complex and human is that he truly loves his grandson and wants him back. It’s going to be on his terms though. As the story unfolds, he continues to play with fire, putting his grandson at greater risk. This is where Ridley Scott’s directing really shines. Every time you think Getty is coming to his senses and is about to do something good, he becomes more cold and despicable. You can feel the audience seethe along with you in the theater. A lot of this comes out in the conflict between Getty and his daughter-in-law, played by Michelle Williams.

As always, Michelle Williams is superb. She plays your typical mother whose only concern is getting her son back. She wants Getty to pay the ransom, but he refuses to give in to the kidnappers. This character is great to watch, because she’s fierce as hell throughout the whole movie. As the situation becomes more dire, she actually gets angrier, never having a complete breakdown. Williams should definitely get Oscar consideration.

The other major character is Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg), the former CIA agent Getty hires to track down John Paul Getty III. I’ve seen criticism of Wahlberg’s performance, but he plays his part well. While a central character, his depth is more down played. While smart, he actually comes off as a dope a lot of the time. In fact, everybody makes a lot of dumb decisions, from both team Getty and the kidnappers. This works for the film though, as it shows just how out of control the situation gets. The actual kidnapping plot offers a lot of great twists and turns. It definitely hits some lulls though, and the end is very drawn out.

It all goes back to Ridley though. It’s the opposite of the telegraphed, predictable Alien: Covenant, as Scott offers a unique way of telling the story here. He uses a lot of early flashbacks that set up perfectly how the Getty family works, with an important focus on Getty and his grandson, as well as how Getty’s own son (Andrew Buchan) is a pathetic burn out. There’s also one excruciating, hard to watch sequence that happens to the grandson. It had the audience squirming, so the director must have done something right. This one moment had more of a horror effect than all of Alien: Covenant. It also shows why the poster for this movie is brilliant.

It was nice to see a return to form for Ridley Scott. This is a stylish, but efficient thriller that isn’t afraid to dig deep into the soul of its characters along the way. The score by Daniel Pemberton is also flawless, creating the perfect mood, especially whenever J. Paul Getty is on screen. Plummer really is the stand out here, and his last scene in the movie couldn’t have summed up the character better, and could very well win Plummer the Oscar.

Rating: 8 out of 10 (Great)

Daniel Cohen
Daniel Cohen
Daniel Cohen likes movies and bagels, and that’s pretty much it. Aside from writing Box Office predictions, Daniel hosts the monthly Batman by the Numbers Podcast on the Breakcast feed. Speaking of Batman, If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow's fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.

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