It seems that money can’t buy everything, even if it’s the life of your grandson. Ridley Scott brings the story of John Paul Getty III to the big screen with artistic flair and with a last-minute decision to replace Kevin Spacey, and the end result is quite surprising. The film tells the harrowing story of seventeen-year old John Paul Getty III being held for ransom after his kidnapping and the subsequent problems of trying to get the money together in order to bring him home safe. Director Ridley Scott (Alien Covenant) handles the story quite well, but in the end, I would’ve preferred more.
Losing a child something that no one should ever experience, but imagine there’s a chance that he will be released from his captors if a sum of money is to be paid first. For Gail Harris (Michelle Williams) that particular sum of money is impossible to obtain without asking Getty’s grandfather J. Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer). He’s extremely frugal with his wealth (I say that honestly) and every transaction is handled as if someone were dealing with corporate business accounts. There’s a price for everything and that can be negotiated down to the right amount. It doesn’t help the fact that the grandson (Charlie Plummer, who isn’t related to Christopher Plummer) often boasted about faking a kidnapping just to get money from his grandfather.
His father can’t help as he has a drug problem which leaves him in a wheelchair leaving Gail to fend for herself while Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg) has been hired by J. Getty to deal with her. All the Money in the World is really a perfect title and is a frustrating film because we understand what Gail is going through. The Press is after her bombarding her life with questions and while all this is happening her son is being held captive while J. Getty spends his time buying pieces of art even though he knows full well what is going on in the news.
The look of this film is spot-on. From the clothing, the set designs and even the back and forth moments kept me engrossed as the film played out. Christopher Plummer is an upgrade from Kevin Spacey who was to portray J. Getty but was fired by Ridley Scott after he was accused of sexual misconduct. I will tell you that while watching this film that I didn’t feel that Spacey’s presence would’ve enhanced the experience. Plummer is excellent here and commands every scene he’s in as the old man who is tight with money and is set in his ways. It also feels more realistic in that Plummer is the appropriate age since J. Getty was 80 when his grandson was kidnapped and this whole debacle started.
Michelle Williams does fantastic work as the desperate mother who will do anything to save her son. There’s one great moment when a deal is talked in a room full of people. The money to pay for the ransom will be loaned to Getty’s son (John Paul Getty’s father) at four percent interest and let’s not forget that Gail is expected to waive her parental rights. This is after all the negotiations of lowering the price of the ransom. Instead of $4 Million, J. Getty will pay $1 Million (which is the maximum amount that is tax deductible). It’s unbelievable to consider that this all happened and Ridley Scott establishes the suspense very well while the script by David Scarpa could’ve used some tweaks in the middle of the film as some parts did feel repetitive.
Verdict 3 out of 5
All the Money in the World is a tense thriller and a unique look at one man who treated a kidnapping ordeal like a business transaction. It’s shocking to witness the pain and suffering that John Paul Getty III received at the hands of his kidnappers, the only problem is that the film ends abruptly. We never get to witness the life that the grandson lived after his kidnapping (it’s quite tragic) and the investigation into finding the suspects responsible is done well by Ridley Scott. The film is suspenseful and a bit too long, but I felt that the entire story should’ve been told instead of what we are given. At least this is better and more engaging that Scott’s Alien Covenant.