FilmReview

Review: While Entertaining, ‘All the Money in the World’ Still Leaves Much To Be Desired

Megan Hayman ’19 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

All the Money in the World, the 25th film by director Ridley Scott, immediately begins with the kidnapping that sets the entire story in motion. Based on the real life story of the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer), the grandson of the richest man in the world at the time, J. Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer), the film takes no time in stating what the story is about. Getty himself explains in voiceover about how different things are for him and his family because of this wealth, and how he hopes the audience won’t judge them too harshly.

Christopher Plummer in All The Money In The World. Photo Credit: TriStar Pictures.

After this, the plot halts to explain the backstory of how Gail Harris (Michelle Williams), John Paul’s mother, ended up struggling financially and estranged from her father-in-law. This break is rather abrupt and stops all of the momentum built up by the beginning in exchange for exposition. While it does kick back into action, the time spent here at times feels too long and unnecessary. These pacing problems don’t come back in the rest of the film, which stands in stark contrast to this one portion.

Much of the reason to see this movie is because of the performances. While much of the press surrounding All the Money in the World was due to the replacement of Kevin Spacey as J. Paul Getty after sexual assault allegations, Plummer is so wonderfully unpleasant and snobbish as the senior Getty, who refuses to give the kidnappers their ransom money even though he could easily do so. In spite of the heartlessness and greed of the character, Plummer is still a joy to watch. Williams also gives a brilliant performance as Gail Harris, John Paul’s determined and long suffering mother. Her frustration is understated but incredibly palpable, striking a very difficult, commendable balance. Another great performance comes from Charlie Plummer (no relation to Christopher), who plays the kidnapped boy himself. Charlie is very good in spite of his character being rather undeveloped. The only performance that could be described as underwhelming would be that of Mark Wahlberg, who plays a CIA agent named Fletcher Chase who is hired by the Getty’s to find Paul, though this could be chalked up to the script not giving his character many traits beyond being hyper competent.

Michelle Williams, Mark Wahlberg, and Andrea Piedimonte Bodini in All The Money In The World. Photo Credit: TriStar Pictures.

In terms of the themes of the film, there were ideas that seemed to be hinted at that weren’t explored in particularly great depth. The divide between rich and poor that was brought up at the start is there, but remains a surface-level exploration. Ultimately more attention is given to the events of the plot, and while the film is very successful in terms of building suspense, this turns out to be at the expense of larger ideas promised to be explored from the beginning.

All the Money in the World does good job of being an entertaining and well made thriller. With the exception of a few key elements, namely a well developed script and surface-level thematic depth, the film surely will keep audiences entertained, particularly if they aren’t familiar with the real life story. If a slickly made and suspenseful film that doesn’t have too much depth sounds appealing, then All the Money in the World is an easy film to recommend.

Overall Grade: B-

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