Movie: ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD Rating: R, language, some violence, disturbing images and brief drug content
Release Date: December 25, 2017
Jeanne: My mother always told us "Money doesn't buy you happiness", and though I had my doubts, after seeing "All The Money In The World", I concur. Despite being the wealthiest man in the world at the time his 16-year-old grandson, John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer), is kidnapped, J. Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer --- no relation to Charlie) refuses to pay the 17 million dollar ransom demand, thus relegating the teenager to unspeakable unhappiness.
When young Paul is swept off the streets of Rome on July 10, 1973, his mother, Gail Harris (Michelle Williams), is alerted to the crime and the demand for a healthy sum of money. She and Paul's father, John Paul Getty II, were divorced and she was virtually penniless. To compound matters, her ex-father-in-law refuses to help her in any way monetarily.
Instead he assigns his "fixer", Fletcher Chace (Mark Wahlberg), to assist Gail in her efforts to bring her son home. Getty Sr. is convinced that if he pays ransom for one grandchild, the 14 others will be targets for future kidnappings. In the meantime, as Gail and Fletcher work feverishly to negotiate with the kidnappers, Paul's life hangs in the balance.
Based on John Pearson's book, "Painfully Rich: The Outrageous Fortune and Misfortunes of the Heirs of J. Paul Getty", "All The Money In The World" is directed by Ridley Scott, with a screenplay by David Scarpa. I must mention that after our screening, I needed to return home and shower --- Getty's overwhelming love of money left me feeling unclean and disgusted.
There is no doubt that this relentless billionaire, and lover of all things beautiful --- art, especially --- was brilliant. His genius amassed an unbelievable fortune, but his lack of compassion and ruthlessness with his own family members taints whatever good will his philanthropy has established.
Both Plummers are sensational. Unless you've been living under a rock, everyone knows Christopher replaced Kevin Spacey after allegations surfaced of sexual harassment from many men. Scott, in good conscience, couldn't release his effort with Spacey playing Getty, so he chose to re-shoot with Christopher. And what a magnificent decision that was! He is certifiably steel-willed, arrogant and despicably unkind in this role, which must have been extremely stimulating for an actor of his caliber. He's toxically terrific!
Charlie is beautiful and so vulnerable as Paul. He's really only still a child, and to be thrust into such a harrowing experience is gut wrenching. Plummer takes us there --- to this horrible place --- with him. It is really too incredibly sad that it could have been greatly minimized, rather than the lengthy five month ordeal that it was.
In our production notes, it is stated that neither Williams nor Wahlberg could find much research material on their characters. Perhaps Gail was as reserved as Williams plays her. Truly, she was surrounded by only men and it was the early 70's, when a screaming Mimi would have been dismissed.
But Gail was disregarded --- her pleas falling on deaf ears. Had I been in her place, I believe I would have picked up the nearest letter opener and let the old man have it --- but that's just me. And here's my problem --- Gail was supposedly roundly criticized for never crying for her son in public, but a good tantrum or two would have made her seem more human.
That, and Wahlberg as Chace, didn't work for me. This man had been a Navy SEAL, CIA agent, business owner, etc. and Wahlberg doesn't personify any of those. His performance is lackluster --- underwhelming at best.
"All The Money In The World" is a good movie, not a great one. And had it not been for the two Plummers, it may have been forgettable. This was a near preventable crime --- one that could have easily concluded in days instead of months.
Paul went on to lead a tortured life, depending on drugs and alcohol to ease the memories of his ordeal. Due to a bad mixture of said dependencies, he ended up a quadriplegic, partially blind and unable to speak, requiring constant care by his mother until his untimely death at the age of fifty-four. So, does money buy happiness? In Paul's case, one would ultimately have to say no.
Opinion: Mild See It Now!
David: Director Ridley Scott has been nominated for an Oscar on four occasions, but has never won. Unfortunately for the new octogenarian (Scott turned 80 on November 30th this year) his latest film, "All The Money In The World" will keep that streak intact.
The movie received a great deal of publicity with the Kevin Spacey sexual harassment accusations made public just weeks before the film's first scheduled release. Scott moved heaven and Earth to replace Spacey with Christopher Plummer as J. Paul Getty, not only the richest man in the world during his lifetime, but purported to be the richest man in the history of the world.
Plummer is not the problem with "All The Money In The World". He is perfect for the role, and coming off his performance as Scrooge in "The Man Who Invented Christmas", the 88-year-old Plummer runs the risk of being typecast as a cranky curmudgeon. The actor is actually the ideal age to portray the crusty Getty. The only slight problem is that he doesn't appear much younger when the movie flashes back 25 years to 1948.
When John Paul Getty III (played here by Charlie Plummer, no relation) was kidnapped in 1973 at age 16, I don't recall a huge public outcry, as was the case with Patty Hearst (1974, I lived through that) and the infant son of Charles Lindbergh (1932, which I did not live through). Perhaps the lack of an outraged populace for the real event made it difficult, if not nearly impossible, to make a compelling film about the Getty incident.
Outside of one particularly brutal scene between the Italian gangsters who perpetrated the crime, and Getty's young grandson, there is little tension to the story. The more astonishing aspect of the script is the nonchalance with which the uber-wealthy Getty decides not to accede to the kidnappers' ransom demands, initially $17 million, and gradually reduced to $4 million.
His thought process: with all his grandchildren and other kids, if he complied with all the ransom demands of subsequent abductions, he would soon be broke. Of course, this is nonsense, but that's what the cold-hearted, miserly Getty believed, according to the film.
Michelle Williams plays John Paul's mother Gail, and together with an unlikely ally in the person of the elder Getty's adviser, Fletcher Chace (Mark Wahlberg), they desperately try to bargain with the kidnappers for her son's release. Williams is being touted for a possible Oscar nomination, and while her performance is good, I didn't think it was exceptional. Wahlberg seems like he's going through the motions --- too blase for such a critical role. Even his brief confrontation with Getty lacks the rage that the story demands at that point.
Typically at the end of a biopic like this, the filmmakers provide additional postscripts about what may have transpired subsequent to the end of the movie, and who may have been affected. What happened to John Paul Getty III and what, if any, were the repercussions on his life? Were the kidnappers ever convicted of the crime? What about Gail? Although some information is shown, none of these questions were addressed, which would have made "All The Money In The World" that much better.
Opinion: Wait for DVD