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All The Money In The World (dir. Scott)

Image: Michelle Williams & Mark Wahlberg in All The Money In The World. [Source: IMDB]

★★★☆☆

When the grandson of billionaire John Paul Getty was kidnapped in 1973, you would imagine it might have been easier to get the ransom out of a man who had some two billion dollars to his name. Based on real-life events, it’s hard not to be bewildered by the immeasurable greed of John Paul Getty, realized via the unquestionably excellent Christopher Plummer, which says something truly special about the actor. Famously he came to the project during reshoots after Kevin Spacey was edited out following the revelations about the actor’s history of sexual abuse, and Plummer pulls it out of the bag without it seeming phoned in. While Plummer does save the movie from its potential fall from grace after the Spacey controversy, All The Money In The World proves one thing; Ridley Scott is still as much of a powerhouse director as he was when he was bringing us polarizing films like Alien and Blade Runner. In the six weeks before its release, Scott recast the role of John Paul Getty, organized the reshoots, had cast members flown around reshooting and had it all edited and polished in time for its release.

Director: Ridley Scott. Starring: Michelle Williams, Christopher Plummer, Mark Wahlberg. [15]

Why is it worth knowing this? Well much like how there’s an additional fascination with films such as The Revenant, Apocalypse Now and even Star Wars: A New Hope knowing the tough and challenging shoots they persevered through, we can also stand dumbfounded at Scott’s efficiency and skill as a director. Aside from some questionable editing choices at the start of the film resulting in a plodding pace, it plays out seamlessly. Whilst All The Money In The World is not groundbreaking or even amongst Scott’s best work, the film does have raise significant questions (frankly unavoidable considering it’s a film about John Paul Getty) about money, it’s control over people’s lives and how it can affect society. The film brings these questions to light through the characters of John Getty and his former daughter-in-law Gail Harris (Michelle Williams) reflected in the often cold and cynical cinematography, giving the film an almost artificial feel as if mirroring the values of capitalist society and John Getty himself.

Despite this cynicism, there are some standout performances. Romain Duris, who plays one of the kidnappers and Plummer do fine work to humanize the more disagreeable characters, helping us as an audience empathize with their point of view. All The Money In The World treads lightly in the footsteps of films such as Wall Street and The Wolf of Wall Street but strips back the character studies and almost lavish allure for a slightly more reserved and theatrical approach. While it may fail in producing meaningful insight into John Paul Getty, it succeeds in being a captivating crime drama.

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