Movie Review – “All the Money in the World”

“All the Money in the World” is a fascinating chess match between family and money!

– Patrick King, REEL BRIEF

By now, most moviegoers are aware of the multiple sexual assault allegations leveled at Netflix’s “House of Cards” star Kevin Spacey. While many tabloid headlines covered the television series’ formal break-up with the actor in November, fewer Hollywood watchers may have noticed the rapid-reaction and recasting of Spacey prior to this Monday’s release of the movie “All the Money in the World”.

The film’s director (three-time Academy Award nominated Ridley Scott) and the movie’s production studio (Columbia Pictures) immediately made the proper decision to recast veteran Christopher Plummer into Spacey’s role of true-life billionaire J. Paul Getty. The studio’s bold move, made with less than 30 days before the film’s release, required the reshooting of 22 scenes in Europe with costars Michelle Williams and Mark Wahlberg…both of whom left their families during Thanksgiving and flew to Europe for additional filming without asking for even a dime in compensation.

It’s difficult to watch this real-life story on the 1973 kidnapping of J. Paul Getty’s grandson without staring at Plummer’s remarkable job as the oil magnate. He outshines both Williams and Wahlberg with ease…and neither are acting pushovers on the big-screen. But with over 5 decades of filmmaking on his resume, it’s easy to see why Ridley Scott had originally penned Plummer into the tycoon role before settling on Spacey.

“All the Money in the World” is a fascinating chess match between family and money. We see how blackmail techniques and stiff demands aren’t solely used by the kidnappers seeking a hefty ransom. Rather, glimpses into the harsh Getty family dynamics and hierarchy evoke as much shock in viewers as the film’s criminal elements.

The film successfully balances the emerging danger to the missing 16-year old grandson with the tenuous relationship between the world’s richest man and his daughter-in-law–the grieving mother Gail Getty (Williams). Both subplots are interesting to watch fester and boil over, but perhaps none more so than seeing Plummer and Williams in the same room. Their rapport and respect for each other, ebbing and flowing with high stakes tension.

With an abundance of high-caliber holiday films to watch, it would be easy for “All the Money in the World” to get lost in a galaxy far, far away. Plummer’s miraculous last-minute lineup change, however, deserves notice. This film’s a satisfying crime thriller about blackmail and misfortune from several directions…a worthy storyline despite the absence of Jedi moves.  

Grade: B+

“All the Money in the World” is rated R for language, some violence, disturbing images and brief drug content. Its running time is 2 hours and 12 minutes. The film opens in theaters nationwide on Christmas Day. 

© 2017, Patrick. All rights reserved.

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