Is Ridley Scott ever going to just chill the hell out? Probably not. 2017 saw him direct not just one, but two mammoth projects which both met their own trials for very different reasons. One was returning to the Alien legacy (albeit with lacklustre results) and another saw him out manoeuvre a production nightmare after the revelation of one of the biggest scandals in Hollywood put the thing on hold.
Not one to be thwarted in his goal though, with All the Money in the World’s leading man at the forefront of a sexual assault scandal, Sir Ridders did the unthinkable of replacing him a month before the films release and reshooting it with a brand new cast member. Only within a few minutes of meeting Christopher Plummer’s John Getty do you begin to question why the legendary director didn’t put this legendary actor at the top of his list in the first place.
A scandalous story in itself, All the Money in the World tells the tale of the John Getty III’s kidnapping that saw the grandson of the richest man in history snatched and held to ransom. Rather than give up the requested fee that the gajillionaire would spend on an average day, its left to daughter-in-law and mother to the abductee, Gail Harris (Michelle Williams), and Getty’s security advisor, Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg) to head off and find the Getty Jr.,Jr. before it’s too late.
The fact that you’re reading about the verdict of this film is itself, a miracle. To have made a turnaround so fast on a project that seemed in such dire peril is a credit to Scott and his determination to get this film back on track and thankfully so. Admist all the trouble All the Money in the World may have encountered, it certainly got its pennies worth when Christopher Plummer stepped in. Nine days work for a man in his 80’s show that, like his director, age is but a number. Even considering the three key figures that play their part in this tense countdown his portrayal of the oil tycoon may very well be the best role in his entire career and an undeniable testament to his ability.
Getty is an enigma, wielding a welcoming charm of a man who has everything and a ruthlessness of one who refuses to give any of it up. He rebukes the ongoing battle with the money for his grandson’s life demonstrating a charm and waves it off for his head of security to deal with, barely acknowledging the one person who is desperate for it to be resolved; Gail Harris, who Michelle Williams brings to life with a performance that seems beyond her years. There’s something truly special in her portrayal as what seems the only woman left in the Getty that looks past the pennies and is willing at one point to literally give up everything to ensure her son’s safety. Channeling the Hollywood dame’s of old, she flies through every scene with a confidence that pulls you in and makes hope for your best even if you know the outcome.
The films bum note however rests with her co-star Mark Wahlberg who doesn’t particularly bring anything we’ve not seen from him before. When everyone else in attendance is bringing their A-game, Wahlberg is simply there. He’s almost stone-like in his delivery, not making any particular dent that in better hands could’ve been something special. He lacks chemistry with Williams who he shares most his screen time with and his only moment of elevation comes in the film’s final act opposite Plummer which feels shoehorned and not particularly necessary. Thankfully, he’s not the draw though, it’s seeing two parties that have a young man’s life hanging on a business deal and seeing them collide is well worth the fee.