All the Money in the World is an impressively directed film, and just as Ridley Scott is consistently able to create an invigorating, exciting, and good looking film, he’s also stuck with a somewhat weaker script. It’s a technically amazing film, with beautifully composed shots, and while it’s definitely a little too long with some extraneous elements, it’s a great showcase for some amazing performances, particularly Michelle Williams and Christopher Plummer.
Based on a true story, the film follows the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer), who’s held for ransom by a mafia group who demand $17 Million from the boy’s mother Gail Williams (Michelle Williams). Despite the immense wealth of Getty’s grandfather John Paul Getty I (Christopher Plummer), the elder Getty is unwilling to pay the ransom, leaving Williams to cooperate with Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg), Getty’s chief security officer and negotiator.
While the scenes involving the young Getty held by kidnappers do more to advance the urgency of the story than to add emotion, they are effective in emphasizing the gravity of the situation, and the film has more than enough emotional support from the performance by Michelle Williams, who’s reacts with both fear and anger to the increasingly overwhelming situation. Wahlberg is solid as Chase, and while he’s not completely believable as a seasoned agent of espionage, he brings a raw charisma to the character and gets the film’s most interesting character arc.
Yet, the film’s highlight is by far Christopher Plummer as John Paul Getty III. It’s shocking to think a performance so calculated and nuanced was only shot in a week, but Plummer’s despicable, yet idiosyncratic performance of a man obsessed with the power of wealth is a testament to the fact that he’s one of the best actors ever to grace the silver screen. Plummer brings out Getty’s ego, and his unwillingness to ever be undermined, and while the character is completely unlikeable, he’s also completely convicted in his own problematic philosophy.
All the Money in the World is a bit long at places; the 133 minute runtime has some extraneous scenes that could’ve been cut to intensify the story’s urgency, and despite some weird uses of flashbacks in the first half, the film ends with a riveting set piece, as well as some reflective truisms on Getty’s legacy. It’s a solid thriller, impeccably acted, and a good example of Ridley Scott’s ability to create beautiful, and occasionally thought provoking films. Grade: B+