“All the Money in the World” is equal parts distressing and powerful and unnerving. And the story behind the film is just as fascinating as the film itself.
Scott finished shooting with the original cast, which included Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey – under heavy make-up, to add almost 30 years to his appearance – as moneybags Getty.
But after sexual assault allegations against Spacey surfaced, a decision was made in November 2017 to replace the actor with another Oscar winner, Christopher Plummer, whose age more closely matches that of the character he’s portraying.
Serendipitous? (Shrugs) sure.
Scott quickly reshot 22 scenes, substituting Plummer for Spacey, and incorporated the new footage into the film in time for its Dec. 22 release.
That… deserves some recognition of its own, ammiright?
And if you didn’t know this before seeing “All the Money…,” you’d never know any different; Scott’s cut-and-paste is that flawless.
As the film opens, black-and-white visuals slowly give way to color as the camera tracks the movement of a fearless young man through the busy streets Rome, circa 1973. And almost immediately, Paulo – or Paul, or J. Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer, no relation to Christopher) – is yanked into a van by a gaggle of masked men.
Why? Well, turns out this isn’t just any kid; this is the grandson of deep pockets – the deepest! – and in a voiceover explainer, Paul sort of puts the pieces in place.
“My grandpa wasn’t just the richest man in the world; he was the richest man in the history of the world,” he states. Balls!
There’s mention of Paul’s grandfather bringing oil out of the Saudi Arabian desert (the only scene in which Spacey’s image still exists), and how “there was so much oil that there wasn’t a ship big enough to carry it all. So my grandpa invented one.”
The kidnappers inform Paul’s mother Gail (Michelle Williams) “we have your son,” and there’s a prompt demand of $17 million for his release. Balls!
“I don’t have any money,” she tearfully proclaims, to which baddie intermediary Cinquanta (Romain Duris) matter-of-factly replies, “Get it from your father-in-law; he has all the money in the world.”
If only it were that simple.
What follows is a chess match between the kidnappers and Gail – and between Gail and her former father-in-law, filled with desperate pleas for the funds required to release her son.
We hear Getty say to his grandson via flashback, “You’re a Getty; Gettys are special” and later tell hired security advisor Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg) “… I don’t know what I would do if anything happened to that boy,” so it’s altogether mind-blowing when he then refuses to pay the ransom.
“I have 14 grandchildren,” Getty reasons. “If I start paying ransoms, I’ll have 14 kidnapped grandchildren.”
Fair. But Chase warns him, “They will do things to Paul that cannot be undone with any amount of money.”
And that is what makes this flick so difficult to watch. I felt like it took a while for things to get rolling, but once they did, I was completely invested.
Half the time I was pissed at Getty for seeming so withdrawn and callous while he preached about the importance of family; the rest of the time I was terrified for that kid, especially when sh*t gets real.
And to really deliver that sensation, Scott is sure to contaminate the lens on a few occasions to bring this realism front and center. GAH!
Williams continues to impress, exhibiting incredible strength in the face of unfathomable and personal horror. You will feel every shred of the panic and anxiety and outrage and strife her character endures.
She was nominated for a Golden Globe for this role, so don’t be surprised if (err, when) you hear her name among this year’s Oscar nominees, to be announced on Jan. 23.
After seeing Plummer as J. Paul Getty, I can’t imagine anyone else in that role. And given the controversy, I think Ridley Scott was wise to pull Spacey from the film; had he not, this flick likely would be receiving attention for all the wrong reasons.
Instead we’re allowed to focus on the (true-ish) story and the captivating abilities of the actors bringing these characters to the big screen.
And watching that in staggering awe is worth “All the Money in the World.”