All the Money in the World (2017)
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Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the film is its non-stop pacing. Whether or not all of the bells and whistles of this story were true, Scott is determined to keep you on the edge of your seat with suspense, even if you ultimately know where the story ends up. And luckily, this story is perfect for a cinematic experience. The true events are unfortunately tragic for many involved, but in the end it's the character of J. Paul Getty that makes for a truly riveting character to watch. Not willing to budge to pay a single dime for his grandson's ransom is beyond frugal, and the fact that the events didn't play out in an even worse manor is a miracle.
Getty's pushback (or lack thereof) makes for a great back and forth with his daughter in law, Gail Harris (played by Michelle Williams). Williams is brilliant in everything, and she once again kills it as the desperate but under control mother of a kidnapped son. She will likely be overshadowed by Plummer come award shows, but Williams' talent will never go unnoticed from me.
Ultimately, All the Money in the World is a fascinating tale of greed, frugality, power, and the differences in people's approach in high stress situations. From great performances to an impressive and important feat from Scott's last minute direction, I quite appreciated All the Money in the World.
The precisely descriptive titled 1995 John Pearson book "Painfully Rich: The Outrageous Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Heirs of J Paul Getty" is adapted by screenwriter David Scarpa, and it's the storytelling instincts of Mr. Ridley, and remarkable acting of Mr. Plummer and Michelle Williams that keep us engaged for the 132 minute run time.
16 year old John Paul Getty III is played by rising star Charlie Plummer ("Boardwalk Empire", no relation to Christopher), and though this is the story of his kidnapping and violent torture, the movie mostly focuses on the contrasting personalities of his devoted mother Gail Harris (Michelle Williams) and his miserly grandfather J Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer), the wealthiest man in the world. She is a woman totally committed to her children while spurning the strings attached to family money. He, on the other hand, has devoted his life to money and winning, ignoring anything that might be construed as loyalty or compassion to family. Having just starred as Ebenezer Scrooge in THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS, this is just about the easiest transition an actor could hope for, given so little prep time for a new role.
The billionaire Getty refuses to pay the ransom, instead dispatching his security specialist Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg) to negotiate the boy's release. As a former CIA operative, Chase misreads both the situation with the abductors and the strength and determination of Gail. We get periodic looks at the captors and the environment where the grandson is being held. Romain Duris (THE BEAT THAT MY HEAR SKIPPED) is excellent as Cinquanta, the captor who spends the most time with the boy. The "ear" scene is explicit enough to elicit groans and shrieks from the audience, so be advised.
"We are not like you" is what the younger Getty tells us as narrator, and he's right. The ultra-rich live in a different world than you and I (assuming you aren't one of "them"), and that's never more clear than when the elder Getty explains his preference for things over people. While we never empathize with the rich miser, director Scott at least helps us understand what made him tick. To him, life was a negotiation and it's all about winning - though his definition of winning could be debated.
The two octogenarians, Mr. Scott (80) and Mr. Plummer (88) work wonders with the outstanding Ms. Williams to make this a relatable story and captivating movie. The elder Getty died in 1976, two months to the day after Howard Hughes, while the grandson Getty had a massive drug overdose in 1981, and died in poor health in 2011, leaving behind his son, actor Balthazar Getty.
As pretty much everyone knows, Christopher Plummer was pulled in at the last minute to play J. Paul Getty, reshooting all of the scenes previously featuring Kevin Spacey in a performance we will now never see thanks to the sexual harassment scandal that emerged about him. Getty refuses to pay the ransom when his grandson is kidnapped, much to the anger and frustration of his ex-daughter-in-law, played by Michelle Williams in a performance that struggles to rise above the middle-brow film making. Mark Wahlberg is Getty's chief security man who's tasked with handling the situation and who eventually sours on Getty as he realizes what a cold-blooded monster he is. All of the performances are fine, but nothing about this movie really ever comes fully to life. Everything we're supposed to feel is telegraphed every step of the way, including the rather obvious moral that a life driven by the acquisition of money and stuff is bound to be an empty one. And the finale, which should be a nail biter, instead is clunky and awkward. Scott's direction in the rest of the film is uninspired but competent; his direction of the film's climax is just bad.
At 2 hours and 12 minutes, this film spends much time meandering and padding out its running time with repetitive low-energy diversions and failure is too often consequence-free. The protagonists feel ineffectual and the baddies feel incompetent and nonthreatening as a result, and the vast majority of the film is people talking back and forth with awkward lengthy pauses in their dialogue. This story isn't all that interesting enough to justify the length, and feels like a formality of Ridley Scott at this point. If you give me a taste of suspense and then show me that this happened over the course of months I will believe you. You don't have to present it in real time.
The film's portrayal of the Getty family "as only obsessed with wealth," as Ariadne Getty put it upon seeing the film, is not necessarily based on fact. Sure, J. Paul Getty does state his love for his bloodline throughout the film, but it is heavily weighed against with his cold attitude to the situation and an incredibly cheesy "gotcha" moment where Getty appears to be negotiating the ransom only for it to be revealed he was simply negotiating the price on a piece of artwork. It's as basic as these ironic Hollywood anti-Capitalism stories go, where the lack of humanity is cartoonishly exaggerated. I probably would have come up with something like this back when I was an angsty teenager who knew everything about the world.
J.'s portrayal isn't the only problem though. Practically every character comes off as shallow and one-dimensional, especially the kidnapping victim, John Paul Getty III, who as a teenager is immediately portrayed as a needlessly ungrateful git towards his mother, and thus I didn't feel attached to him as a character, which is a shame since it's based on a real person. Fletcher Chase comes off as terribly incompetent right out of the gate as the movie doesn't spend much of its excessive time portraying his detective work on screen and simply shows one brief interaction which leads him confidently to a wrong conclusion based on no solid evidence.
I wanted more humanity and more depth to the characters. There were interesting ideas brought up, such as the issue of paying a ransom encouraging further kidnappings, which is unfortunately just a one-time throwaway line despite being a rational concern.
If you are curious about this event, do yourself a favor and read up on it instead of watching this drawn out lazy Oscar bait. Ridley Scott is so hit-or-miss nowadays that I wonder if even the original Alien film was only accidentally a masterpiece, much like M. Night Shyamalan with The Sixth Sense, Joel Schumacher with Falling Down and Neill Blomkamp with District 9.
The film unfolds in a tense drama that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats. Michelle Williams is fantastic as a desperate mother willing to do anything to save her child, but having to fight Getty just as much as the kidnappers. Wahlberg is also surprisingly good as the former CIA man that is really a negotiator, not a super spy. The real star is Christopher Plummer's Getty. He is outstanding as an old frail man who built an empire through ruthless negotiations and frugality and refuses to deviate from that even to save his own grandson. His misguided priorities are perfectly displayed by him claiming to not be able to afford the ransom and then spending millions on a new painting. Plummer's performance is all the more impressive considering he stepped in at the last minute and shot all of his scenes in just 8 days.
Ridley Scott blends the experiences of the hostage Paul Getty with the worry of his mother and the indifference of his grandfather beautifully. There is very little wasted movement and my biggest complaints are just the occasionally confusing decisions by some characters, but those decisions are all the ones made by real people at the time, so I can hardly fault Scott.
They should have left it alone to be honest. I get that Spacey has controversial allegations, but the film was already made and marketed...and anticipated. The original will never be seen...because as a society we now censor art based on the behavior of the artist.
Oddly enough, we never cared about Eminem pistol-whipping people, or TI having an illegal military arsenal of weaponry. If Jeffrey Dahmer painted a thought-provoking masterpiece moments before his execution....should we burn it?? Or should we study it?
Answer: leave it alone...study it. Keep it intact. How can we ever learn and grow when we use censorship?
I couldn't enjoy it. Too distracted by wondering what the film originally was...
The opening credits tell us this is "inspired by real events". A few liberties have been taken with the facts as most of us remember them, especially towards the end of the movie. One delicious fact is the British Telecom payphone guests are obliged to use in the hall of Getty's magnificent Tudor mansion in Surrey.
Christopher Plummer is excellent if somewhat OTT as the Scrooge-like mogul. The pace is good, with lots of fast cutting between the family and the kidnappers. It's an okay movie, even a good movie, but it's not in the league of Scott's epic GLADIATOR (which, let's not forget, heavily recycled the plot of BEN HURr).
The big story with ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD is of course the surgical removal of Kevin Spacey from the first final print following his "fall from grace". I read that Spacey's bio-pic of Gore Vidal is now unlikely to be released - a story I'd very much like to see. Is his back-list also going to be shelved, meaning that we will never again see AMERICAN BEAUTY or THE USUAL SUSPECTS? Will Harvey Weinstein's output (including PULP FICTION, KILL BILL and -one of my all-time favourites - SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE) also disappear from TV screens and online video stores?
However vile the "crimes" these two men (and others) have been accused of (and found guilty in the court of public opinion), it surely does not totally degrade the work they - and everyone else involved in those productions - have achieved?
If Ridley Scott's All the Money in the World does anything well, it shows the banality of crime and wealth, at least as this abduction/ransom motif plays out. It's the story inspired by the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer) in 1973, his grandfather's resistance to paying the Italian Red Brigade's ransom demand, and the heroic effort of his mother, Gail Harris (Michelle Williams), to bring her son back alive.
After slogging through the tepid back story (disjointed to say the least), the story gains strength through the passions of its leading players, both of whom have strong feelings about the right way to respond to the kidnappers' demand for $17 million ransom. Mom would pay, considering grandpa is the richest man who ever lived, and he does not in principle want to capitulate.
Yet he may also have reasons to deny the ransom, one that paying would open floodgates of abductions for his other grandchildren and a point made later on but nonetheless fascinating history about the nature of the Getty fortune. Regardless, the central conflict of the story is not the kidnapping but the struggle between patriarch and daughter-in-law for the soul of the family and the deliverance of III.
Although the cross editing between home and kidnappers is sometimes jarring, the director makes the audience feel as if it's present at the contentious proceedings. Trying to understand why the old man resists the ransom is a most difficult situation for parents who couldn't possibly do anything other than pay, but the audience can witness the arguments as if right there among the players.
Coldness pervades this film, as if Scott were able to let the audience feel the lack of warmth from the old man's. Several scenes show him in front of large fireplaces, evoking a Citizen Kane ambience. Getty echoes the self-centered, aloof, lonely Charles Foster Kane.
For the history and the acting, All the Money in the World is worth enjoying this season. Williams plays a resolute and resourceful mother and Plummer infuses the Scrooge-like Getty with a humanity that feels like we are with the real tycoon.
The film is also a cautionary tale about the corruption of wealth and the tenuous familial relations when money is the major player. See it and be happy with your small fortune, which may be, I hope, your loved ones.
I stopped looking at this for I was captivated by Plummer's performance.
A 3 time Oscar nominee (he is the oldest person to win an Academy Award - at the age of 82 - for his Supporting Role in BEGINNERS in 2010), the 88 year old Plummer shows that he can still command a movie for anytime he is on screen this film crackles and becomes interesting.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the rest of the film.
Telling the story of the kidnapping of Getty's grandson, and the "richest man in the world's" refusal to pay the ransom, ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD stars Charlie Plummer (no relation) as John Paul Getty III (the kidnapped grandson), Mark Wahlberg as "fixer" Fletcher Chase, who was told by Getty to get his grandson back for "the lowest possible cost", Romain Duris as one of the kidnappers and the great Michelle Williams as the mother of the kidnapped boy - and the daughter-in-law of Getty, Gail Harris. Each one of these performances are good, but not great. Doing what needs to be done in what they are given to do but nothing more.
I think the problem with this film is one of focus. It spends about 50% of the time with William's character - and this is fine, but then it jumps to the kidnapped son, to "the fixer", to "the kidnapper", to the grandson and back to the mother, so no real through-line, continuity or strong character development can occur, with the exception of Christopher Plummer's J. Paul Getty. To be fair to Williams, C. Plummer has the showier role and she is just asked to be the center of this tale, the world in which all else revolves and that, ultimately, makes her character somewhat bland.
I place the blame for this on Screenwriter David Scarpa (based on the book by John Pearson) and Director Scott. I think their reach exceeded their grasp on this one. If they could have focused more on one of the characters - instead of spreading things out - perhaps this film would have become more interesting and less bland. It stays on one note - despite jumping to different people in vastly different situations - throughout it's 2 hour and 15 minute time frame.
All in all, a missed opportunity. It is a decent film that had the potential to be VERY good. The only one who was VERY good was Christopher Plummer - and certainly his performance is worth the price of admission.
Letter Grade: B
7 (out of 10) stars and you can take that to the Bank (OfMarquis)
'sorry for my bad English'
Couple of comments: this is the latest movie from director Ridley Scott, now a crisp 80 years young if you can believe it. Here he recounts the events surrounding the kidnapping of J. Paul Getty's grandson.. I hope for your enjoyment's sake that, as was the case for me, you don't know how this ends up, I don't want to say much more than that, other than to hold on to your chairs... You have have heard that, resulting from the sexual assault allegations, the movie makers decided to reshoot his scenes... after the movie had been completed and with less than 5 weeks to go before its release. Scott apparently relished the challenge, and Christopher Plummer was recast at J Paul Getty. Not only did the film makers pull it off, but I have to say that Plummer is so outstanding in this role, that I cannot imagine Spacey for this role. Plummer casts a long shadow (in the best possible way) over this movie, almost at the expense of Michelle Williams (as Paul's mother). Mark Wahlberg plays Chase, a former CIA operative and designated by Getty as the negotiator to try and get Paul released. Bottom line: this is a great real life crime drama that also looks at the isolating effect of being so rich that you never know whether anyone around you is sincere or simply in it for the money.
"All The Money In the World" opened wide today. While I wanted to see it, it was actually my grown-up kids who choose this for our annual Christmas Day movie. The early evening screening where we saw this at here in Cincinnati was completely sold out down to the last seat, Given the positive buzz and word-of-mouth this movie will likely create, this movie may have surprisingly long legs at the box office, even more so if high profile award nominations continue to come in (it already did quite well with 4 Golden Globe nominations). In any event, I encourage you to check out "All the Money in the World", be it in the theater, on Amazon Instant Video or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray, and draw your own conclusions.
Final note: Christopher Plummer. What can I say? He killed it.
Being based on a true story, there was material to mine in this story. I think they did a good job of showing characters that seemed out there as being realistic. I heard so many gasps in the theatre when John Paul Getty was shirking Gail or trying to haggle to get JP back. My thought during that was "wow, he's a terrible person but I could see someone with his wealth acting like that." People value different things and Getty is a corrupted person who doesn't understand what other people think is invaluable. I also liked how unapologetic Richard was over his actions, he's really good at his job and what he does for a living isn't very nice. Sure, JP was a little bratty but he sure got the message by the end. JP tells us how his family looks human, acts human but they aren't fully human. This movie gets how to show how wealth changes behaviour and why so many of the characters act unnaturally throughout the movie.
This is another movie that uses the fact that its set in the past in a beautiful location to its full advantage. This movie pulls of the feat of making parts of Italy look gorgeous in some scenes and so grimy and seedy in others. Ridley Scott experiments with the cinematography, some early scenes are in black and white instead of colour. The transition between them is seamless and while it isn't always easy to understand, it looks cool. The costuming seems period accurate and the sterility in the visuals that Scott sometimes has is put to good use here.
Other than Ridley Scott's slick direction and some excellent window dressing with the cinematography and the period piece trappings, the reason to see this is the excellent acting. Michelle Williams is underrated, I think everyone knows how talented she is but she's not the first actress you think of when you think of regular powerhouse performances. She's easily one of the top ten leading ladies working in drama right now and I think she could garner another Oscar nomination for her work here. I really liked Mark Wahlberg in this even if I was a little let down by his character (more on that later). He's very calm and collected and he's equally at ease when he's trying to comfort Gail or threatening communists. I actually wished we could have spent more time with his character and you can credit Wahlberg for that. The actor that's going to get the headlines from this though is Christopher Plummer. He deserves them though, he totally inhabits this larger-than-life character and he's interesting even at his most disgraceful. I know he had to come in as a replacement for Kevin Spacey but when you watch him, it's hard to imagine another actor doing as good of a job. He's definitely going to garner an Oscar nomination if not a win. I also want to credit Charlie Plummer as JP Getty III and Romain Duris as Cinquanta in their supporting parts. Charlie brings elicits sympathy for John Paul and his scenes with Romain make you care about their relationship even if its between a kidnapper and his victim.
I don't have a ton of complaints with this movie. I wanted some more from some of the characters. They really setup Fletcher Chase as a bad@$$ former spy and I wanted to see more of him in his element. I don't need gunfights, just more of seeing him do what he does best. It seemed to me like there was more initially written for that character to do and it got cut out. I also would have liked a little more time with with Gail and John Paul III setting up their relationship after his father's disappearance. The other complaint is that the move drags in the middle with the long run time. I was fully invested in this movie at around the 1hr mark and there was a point where it stopped being this breathtaking thriller and started to coast.
You have to admire Scott's devotion to this movie, he had to make serious changes on the fly just to keep this alive. I don't think this is the best Scott movie (he's made a lot of good ones, but I would still put The Martian ahead of this) but I think this is a beautiful and stylish thriller that doesn't lack for thrills or acting talent. Its absolutely worth seeing in a theatre and even if you don't recognize the story, you'll appreciate it still. I would actually put this somewhere in the range of 8-8.5/10 but I have to round down to an 8.
Suspenseful, thrilling, Unexpected twists and turns, Kept me glued in seat. Neverending obstacles, Though most feel contrived. It takes many liberties, Clearly for show's sake. Luckily there is much truth, For I have been to The stunning Getty Museum, Center and Villa. His Art collection Beautiful and impressive, In sheer quantity, And also in quality. Famously frugal, To make his money tax-free, It is in a trust, All the money in the world, That cannot be spent. Enigmatic rich old man, Amasses fortune In paintings and artifacts. Will pay two million, Only if it is tax-free. Refilm in two weeks, Ridley Scott is genius. Fate saved the day here, Powerful performances By Wahlberg, Williams, And unrelated Plummers. Spacey would never have been Able to pull off this role.
Choka (long poem) was an epic storytelling form of poetry from the 1st to the 13th century, known as the Waka period. The choka is an unrhymed poem with the 5-7-5-7-5-7-5-7...7 syllable format (any odd number line length with alternating five and seven syllable lines that ends with an extra seven syllable line).
In the first 120 seconds, there is black & white imagery of a beautiful night-life city, people eating outside, cars and scooters jamming together for the city's ritual late-evening social life, the prostitutes with roman ruins on the background. Yes, this is Rome in the mid-Seventies. Great. Just Great.
But then, after the 120 seconds, this beautiful retro vintage display is never shown again.
What follows is quite conventional movie-making and story-telling.
And the story in the movie takes quite some liberties to make it more appealing to viewing audiences. I guess real-life is boring. Yeah, the night-time involvement by the mother, walking in the alleys of the countryside town, knocking on doors and asking if they have seen this teenager, well, that was just pure fantasy. And when the boy reunites with the mother, that was total eye-swelling tear-producing drama.
Even the location where the kid was kidnapped was not accurately portrayed. It looked more like Porta Maggiore, when in reality it was Piazza Farnese.
Despite all these and many more misgivings, the decor, clothing, style, objects, indoor architecture, was all accurately displayed. Even the posters on the wall next to the phone booth were timed to the time: "Solidarieta' con il popolo Cileno di Allende" (Chile just had a political coup by general Pinochet).
A positive note: the Italian spoken language was indeed Italian, with (almost) correctly-applied accents, to show they were from the South (English subtitles appeared). This gives more authenticity.
On a side note, I think the kidnappers where shown to be a bit too "wild" or "rough". You know, unshaven faces, rough edges, crumpled clothing.
On a final note, it seems to me that American film-making is heavily focused on actors performance on playing a role. And that is what most critics comment on, when reviews are broadcast-ed or printed on American media. On contrast, European film-making is more slanted on the overall social condition or message and less on the individual actor's performance. This film was definitely more slanted on the American model, although some weak references on the social environment of the kidnappers came subtly through.
So go and see the film and then, next time you tour Italy, go to Canale Monterano on the northwest of Rome, and visit the XVII century ruin and ghost town, that was used as filming location.