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Review: Tense, stylish kidnap thriller All The Money In The World

PUBLISHED: 13:01 13 August 2018 | UPDATED: 13:15 13 August 2018

Christopher Plummer is J. Paul Getty in All The Money In The World. Photo: Sony Pictures

Christopher Plummer is J. Paul Getty in All The Money In The World. Photo: Sony Pictures

Archant

The removal of Kevin Spacey proves to be a blessing in disguise as replacement Christopher Plummer shines as oil tycoon John Paul Getty in Ridley Scott’s propulsive thriller which gets a screening in Diss.

Michelle Williams as Abigail Getty and Mark Wahlberg at Fletcher Chace in All The Money In The World. Photo: Sony PicturesMichelle Williams as Abigail Getty and Mark Wahlberg at Fletcher Chace in All The Money In The World. Photo: Sony Pictures

All The Money In The World (15)

****

The figure of John Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer) offers up the perfect amalgam of Scrooge and Citizen Kane.

Michelle Williams as Abigail Getty and Mark Wahlberg at Fletcher Chace in All The Money In The World. Photo: Sony PicturesMichelle Williams as Abigail Getty and Mark Wahlberg at Fletcher Chace in All The Money In The World. Photo: Sony Pictures

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.

Mammoliti (Marco Leonardi) hangs up J. Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer) attempt to call his mother in All The Money In The World. Photo: Sony PicturesMammoliti (Marco Leonardi) hangs up J. Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer) attempt to call his mother in All The Money In The World. Photo: Sony Pictures

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 before its release 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) 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 impatient due to its comparatively leisurely speed. It is a quality production but maybe the kind of thing people would prefer to watch on television for around 10 hours.

• All The Money In The World is screening at Diss Corn Hall on August 15.

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