Ridley Scott knows how to be swift and efficient. Just a month prior to the release of All the Money in the World, star Kevin Spacey became the subject of a sex scandal. Out with Spacey. Enters Christopher Plummer to re-shoot all of his scenes. And it may be a supporting role, but he gets a lot of screen time. And he just got a Golden Globe nomination. Oscar could follow.
All the Money in the World tells the (real) story of the abduction of Jean-Paul Getty’s grandson, John Paul Getty III, by Italian bandits in 1973. Getty, then the richest man in the world was asked for a ransom of seventeen millions which he never intended to pay, putting instead a security man (played by Mark Wahlberg) in charge of trying to retrieve the young man.
Ridley Scott’s film, from the book by John Pearson, is essentially a thriller using for its premise the confrontation between the powers that be: Getty, John’s mother (solid performance by Michelle Williams) and the kidnappers headed by Cinquinta, played by French actor Romain Duris, a rather curious choice. He offers a colorful characterization but we don’t believe he really is Italian.
Overall, Ridley Scott provides an efficient pace. But the main interest of All the Money in the World resides in how it depicts people, through Getty’s grandson, as assets for negotiation. The value as a figure, an object. The only sparks of humanity are conveyed by the mother (and by the Cinquinta character). It becomes even clearer when John lands into the hands of the the Calabre gangsters like a chip in a poker game. They come as the mirroring reflection of the old Getty. Business is Business. We are not like you can we hear, about the audience, right at the beginning of the story. Indeed, They are not.
And Christopher Plummer’s rushed performance after all the rumbling? He is Imperial.
All the Money in the World is out Nationwide at Christmas.