Review: Tense, stylish kidnap thriller All The Money In The World
PUBLISHED: 17:22 05 January 2018 | UPDATED: 17:23 05 January 2018
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The removal of Kevin Spacey from Ridley Scott’s propulsive thriller proves to be a blessing in disguise as replacement Christopher Plummer shines as oil tycoon John Paul Getty.
All The Money In The World (15)
It’s a little late to do A Christmas Carol, but the figure of John Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer) offers up the perfect amalgam of Scrooge and Citizen Kane.
The world’s richest man, history’s first billionaire, he spent extravagantly on art but was gnat’s chuff tight with other people. When his grandson (Charlie Plummer) is kidnapped in Italy in 1973 he refuses to pay the $17 million ransom.
The Getty kidnapping is one of those true stories that are too good not to be made into a film, but probably too complicated and messy to make a really good one.
Supposedly Mark Wahlberg’s character Fletcher Chase, an ex-CIA operative who became Getty’s right-hand man, was a real person but he feels like a composite figure, an invention to fill in all the gaps and link everybody together.
The other actors get more to work with. Michelle Williams does a decent Katherine Hepburn impersonation playing the distraught mother but Christopher Plummer’s Getty is the star turn.
Two months ago he wasn’t even in this film but in just nine days of re-shoots he has come up with a rich creation. Kevin Spacey had played the role laden in make-up and plastic to try and make him look like a man in his 80s; Plummer (who director Ridley Scott claims was his first choice for the role until Sony insisted on a bigger name) has an effortless assurance.
He’s so comfortable in the role he almost makes the old miser sympathetic. An opening voice-over by the grandson claims that the Gettys are special: “we look like you, but we’re not like you.”
But in the film everybody appears to be cruel, callous and out for themselves, from the relentlessly intrusive paparazzi upwards. Getty senior is the worst of us, but maybe the distance isn’t so great.
The film is a period drama both in content and style. It looks a little glossier than it would have done back then, but for the most part, this film would be consistent with the pacing and grittier style of a mid-1970s crime drama.
It’s about story and characters rather than hyperkinetic action sequences. Which is wonderful except that, if I’m honest, I felt myself getting a bit antsy and impatient due to its comparatively leisurely speed.
I know that doesn’t reflect well on me but you have to wonder, and doubt, if there is much of an audience for this film. It is a quality production but maybe the kind of thing people want to watch on television for around 10 hours.